Photo: C.M. Guerrero

“A cutting-edge network of interactive digital kiosks for Miami-Dade’s transit system may cost passengers an old-fashioned perk: shelter from the rain and the sun.

Outfront Media, the company that builds county bus shelters in exchange for selling ad space on the structures, recently warned it may have to abandon the venture if a rival company installs as many as 300 Wi-Fi-enabled kiosks at bus stops across the county. The kiosk company, Civiq, won a deal in January to spend about $20 million bringing the technology to Miami-Dade at no charge, partly in exchange for selling ads on the nearly 10-foot-tall pylons.

‘We understand that the objectives of the digital kiosk program are fantastic — to provide free Wi-Fi to transit riders,’ Outfront lobbyist Michael Llorente told county commissioners at a recent hearing. ‘But I can assure you that if that program is funded by essentially cannibalizing some of our top-producing bus shelters, a lot of those riders are going to be surfing the Internet under the sun and the rain. Because the money is simply not going to be there for the bus shelters.’

County vendors often warn of financial ruin if the government allows competition, and Outfront has millions invested in its near-monopoly on advertising throughout South Florida’s public-transportation system. It already wraps national brands around Miami-Dade Metromover cars, county buses and on placards at all Metrorail stations under an exclusive contract approved in 2015…”

–Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald

Read entire article