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MTA orders subway ads depicting woman’s murder be removed, but posters still on display

NEW YORK -- They were so disturbing, to so many people, that the MTA ordered all posters advertising the New York Haunted Hayride at Randalls Island removed from subway cars.

The order went out last week. However, the posters could still be found Wednesday in subway cars, leaving the MTA to have to answer to criticism while passengers -- particularly those with children -- try to avert their eyes.

The ad depicts a young woman being asphyxiated with a plastic bag over her head that's held in place with a noose.

The MTA determined that the ad violated its advertising policy by being "so violent, frightening, or otherwise disturbing as to reasonably be deemed harmful to minors."

Official MTA policy states that all 5.65 million of the subway's daily riders have the right to "a safe, welcoming environment" on the train. However, many passengers say the controversial poster leaves them feeling neither safe nor welcoming.

"It's creepy for kids and adults," C-train passenger Sheraya Mayo said. "It may be Halloween, but some kids don't take that stuff too well."

Passenger Sarah Borriello, who rode the subway with her five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, noticed the ad on display as she traveled Wednesday.

"I just asked my son and he said it's creepy," Borriello said.

It's why the MTA ordered its advertising contractor, OutFront Media, to immediately remove the ads last Friday.

However, the ads could be easily found on display in cars on the 7 and C trains on Wednesday. It left some riders, including Borriello, unhappy, to say the least.

"If they said they're going to take it down," Borriello said, "it should be down."

MTA spokesman Beth de Falco said Wednesday the ads were still up because "it takes some time" for the removal process to be completed. The MTA did not want to "inconvenience customers" by taking too many cars out of service in order to remove the ads, de Falco said.

Meanwhile, many of those same customers are inconvenienced by having to see the ad that they'd rather do without.

Some customers, however, had no objection to the posters. Peyton Brandt, a rider on the C train, said that she found the ads to be very effective.

The language she used to describe the poster was very similar to that used by people who'd complained about it -- she said it looks "creepy."

However, she said, that was the point.

"I like spooky things," she said. "It makes me want to go."

She may have ads on the subway to remind her for days to come, according to the MTA.