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Painted carriages won’t cause damage

Is advertising on the Minsk underground appropriate and safe?
By Mikhail Sentyaev

Last year, Minsk’s metro gained its first carriage completely decorated with advertisements. Brewers from the Grodno Region were the pioneers, promoting bottled kvas. Another branded train appeared over the New Year, promoting a Swiss coffee manufacturer. Most of those leaving feedback on Belarusian Internet forums think the painted carriages rather smart but few are in favour decorating metro stations themselves. However, is it really safe to be painting the outside of carriages?

Where are the doors?
It’s possible that someone  — especially with bad eyesight — may not see the location of the doors easily where carriages are painted. They could lose their step and fall — perhaps between the carriages. The traditional bright white line with characteristic zigzags on the doors currently makes their location obvious.

“Before giving permission for advertising on carriages, the issue was thoroughly studied by various institutions,” explains the chief inspector of Minsk’s metro, Alexander Salei. “As you’ve seen, the trains look beautiful. From a theoretical point of view, it’s possible to step between carriages even without advertisements. In fact, it does happen — usually when passengers are drunk.”

Tangible limits
Naturally, safety of passengers, including those with impaired vision, is a high priority. “From 2011-2012, in close co-operation with the Society for the Visually Impaired, we researched how best to make the metro safe for passengers with impaired vision,” notes the Deputy Head of Capital Construction, Alexander Timofeev. “Special relief tiles, produced by Keramin, have been laid along the edge of the platform, and information tables installed at stations are being made more easily readable.” 

Having inspected the Minsk metro, I can admit that the relief line at the platform edge is easy to feel, even in sturdy footwear. Moreover, wheelchair users are gaining special elevators at the stations of Institut Kultury, Oktyabrskaya and Pervomaiskaya.

My ‘dear’ metro
Passengers enjoy a good deal on the metro, only paying about half of the real cost, while avoiding the congestion and delay of road traffic. “The cost of metro tickets is lower than any other type of urban transport,” notes Mr. Timofeev. So, perhaps we can’t blame the metro for seeking to make up some of the shortfall through advertising revenue.

The metro transports around a third of all travellers in the capital. In 2012, Minsk underground transported over 281m passengers. Since opening in summer 1984, it has sold tickets to 5.5bn travellers — equivalent to quadruple the population of China.
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