News & Politics

DC Company Brings Real-Time Transit Info to Jukeboxes in Bars

Maybe a jukebox will save your life.

A TransitScreen showing Metro arrivals and Uber wait times on a jukebox at RFD.

The DC–based startup TransitScreen places TV displays in lobbies of residential buildings in several US cities showing when trains and buses are coming, as well as wait times for ride-share programs like Uber and even the availability of bikes at nearby bike-share docks. Now the company has now partnered with TouchTunes, owner of more than 65,000 digital jukeboxes, to bring that same information to bars.

The screens have already started rolling out in 14 cities, including a dozen bars in DC. TransitScreen’s, er, transit screen has been looped into jukeboxes’ rotating displays of album covers and advertisements for alcohol.

So the obvious catch is that you have to be paying attention, or you’ll miss it. Company co-founder Ryan Croft says in certain bars, TransitScreen appears in a banner ad at the top of the TouchTunes display, which users can tap to open.

“It’s part of a mission of get home safely, don’t drink and drive,” he says. As such, they’ve customized the screens shown in bars to exclude bike-share info.

But don’t most people have that information available to them on, you know, their phone? Croft says he wants his product to be like airport departures screens, but for everyday city life. “You could get all your flight information on your phone, but if it’s right in front of you, you don’t have to reach for your pocket.”

Editorial Fellow

Andrea is a fall 2016 editorial fellow at Washingtonian. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in May and has written for Eater, Outside, and Vice. She lives in Bloomingdale.