In response to Rob’s posting on the D.C. Metro:
While I’d hate for D.C.’s Metro to be cluttered with multilingual signs, the response by WMATA here points to an untapped market it must consider.
Rather than spending operating monies to translate English signs, Metro should use this influx of Hispanic rider-ship as an opportunity to raise revenue from businesses and non-profits which cater to Spanish speakers.
This is a solid opportunity for Metro to encourage a consortium of Spanish-speaking non-profits and businesses to foot the bill for Spanish-language signs for Metro riders. In return Metro could work out short-term special advertising rates for businesses which might like to advertise in Spanish.
After a while WMATA could charge higher advertising rates for better targeted advertising, particularly multilingual ads.
Metro would benefit from the extra cash, riders would benefit from the system not digging deeper into their pockets for operating monies, and the companies selling ad space would benefit from a larger consumer base resulting from the advertising.
While I’m sure there are numerous bureaucratic hurdles to such a common sense, market-friendly approach, determined visionary leadership could conceivably pull it off.
With the poor quality of the Metro system and the clamor for more taxation as the solution, free market-friendly suggestions like this should at least be seriously considered. And let’s face it, passengers on D.C.’s Metro system have nothing to lose.
[The above reflects the personal views of Mr. Shepherd and should not be construed as an official policy position of the Business & Media Institute or the Media Research Center]