Transit Billboards Boost Literacy in Mexico

In an effort to improve literacy, Mexico’s largest book retailer, Librerías Gandhi, partnered with Mexico City’s transportation authority to place billboards featuring excerpts from Franz Kafka’s short story, “The Bridge.” The campaign consists of 13 billboards along Mexico City’s yellow line. Each station houses a short excerpt from the 343-word story and the excerpts are in sequential order. To  be able to read the entire story, riders must travel the entirety of the yellow line, starting from Politécnico and ending at Pantitlán stations.

When Mexico City’s first subway line was built, the country faced low literacy rates, so each station was identified by the minimalist logos of Lance Wyman, in an attempt to make it easier for passengers who couldn’t read to get around. The iconography at each station represented landmarks in the surrounding area, helping riders decipher their location and their destination. Today, data from UNICEF shows that Mexico’s adult literacy rate has improved significantly in the past few decades. The rate is currently at 93 percent.

The billboards are not the only reading materials in Mexico City’s subway stations, and the campaign is not restricted to the yellow line. Pamphlets that contain the complete story are available for all riders.

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