Bloomberg's Busybodies

Give the puritans a victory on smoking bans, and see what slides down the slippery slope:

Moving between cars - as well as resting one's feet on the seats, sipping from an open container (even a cup of coffee) and straddling a bicycle while riding the subway - will be prohibited under a new set of passenger rules adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's transit committee yesterday, the first such rule changes since 1994.

Hands up! This is the MTA! Drop that coffee, lawbreaker. And for chrissakes, get your feet off the seat.

Whole story here; link via Sploid.

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  • ||

    Les sieges nes sont pas provis pour poser les pieds.

    Are we seeing the Genevisation of New York? Feet on the seats isn't a major problem, but it is bad manners. Maybe Bloomberg should just go around slapping people on the back of the head.

  • ||

    and hurt his wrist?

    i mean, whatever. it's bullshit bandaging.

  • ||

    Maybe it'll be like the ban on photography in the subways and quietly be withdrawn.

  • ||

    for what it's worth, watching people try to get both on and off a crowded subway car during rush hour is the greatest argument against self-governance that you will ever witness. the pure failure of the most basic of mutually beneficial behavior sets is enough to make you go fascist after a while, because at least everyone would be able to get off the train first.

  • ||

    I don't really know how much you can blame Bloomberg for this - I think he does appoint some of the MTA board, but most of it's done by the state. Blame Pataki - he's utterly useless anyway.

  • ||

    dhex: Maybe it isn't so much a flaw in manners as poor system design. The trains wouldn't be so crowded if people had to pay the full cost of a trip, and if the operator was motivated by profit we might see a better boarding system or a First Class service with higher prices and less jostling.

  • ||

    How about a rule against territorial leg-spreading? You know, those guys who need to establish their testicular lebensraum by spreading their legs as widely apart as possible so that no man, woman or child will challenge their subway-bench supremacy!

  • ||

    I, for one, welcome my new overlords at the MTA. I am so goddamn sick and tired of the lack of manners on the subway that in this case I am willing to grant them the power to punish those who misbehave (except for moving between cars - WTF?). And I suppose they hope to prevent some lawsuits, too. Maybe they'll cut the fare....

  • ||

    Thank you heartily, E. Steven, for introducing into my vocabulary the phrase "testicular lebensraum".

  • ||

    testicular lebensraum

    phrase of the day!

  • ||

    I can perfectly understand the bike issue. Bicycles do take up a lot of room on a train and when someone straddles their bike, they are not able to move as well as if they were standing next to their bike.

    But I can't believe that they are making a law to punish people that move between cars. What happens when someone needs to move from car to car because they feel threatened? or because someone deficated in the car? Will they be fined because of this?

  • ||

    New York's subway becomes like DC's METRO. the horror.

  • ||

    While I feel for the occasional mess caused by spilled beverages on seats and subway floor, banning the gratification a large percentage of straphangers receive from enjoying a cup of coffee on their morning commute seems unreasonable. Would you rather have these people be dazed and grumpy? Pass this policy and watch crime statistics jump during the morning rush.

  • ||

    Dynamist, "The trains wouldn't be so crowded if people had to pay the full cost of a trip." Doubtful. Even if the ridership went down, they'd just remove excess cars, and the remaining cars would be just as crowded, or moreso. Subways are supposed to operate that crowded. It's not a problem where people aren't complete asses. You know, like in other countries.

    Banning bikes is dumb, because if you make it too hard for people to bike to the train station, many of them will just start driving to work during rush hour.

    I gotta agree with blammo, though. No coffee, no workee.

  • ||

    joe: Public subways are operated that way by choice. L'Orient Express is a train, too, with different priorities. The people in other countries may be asses, but their public/government is more interested in enforcing manners-like rules. Probably the manners learned at home inter-affect what is acceptable in public. It is not a stretch to imagine a "testicular rights" movement forming in opposition to the manners police.

    I paid my fare. If youse don' wanna look at my nuts, close yer freakin' eyes or walk. Jerk.

  • ||

    "dhex: Maybe it isn't so much a flaw in manners as poor system design."

    no, it's a definite flaw in manners and a basic understanding of game theory. or lack thereof, really.

    it's simple...if you get out of the way of people getting off the train, you'll get on FASTER. but people don't want to get on FASTER, they want to get on FIRST.

  • ||

    dhex, as a daily subway rider, I am not so sure I agree. It seems to me that in the past few years, more and more riders are obeying the "step aside" rule, and waiting for those exiting before entering the car. Of course, it helps that this is painted on many of the subway platforms.

    My biggest gripes are the leg spreaders ("testicular lebensraum" indeed), the pole humpers (the pole is for your hands, not your ass), and the door trolls (either get out of the doorway or move in; you can't stay in the doorway just to keep your piece of lean-estate).

  • ||

    Maybe Bloomberg should just go around slapping people on the back of the head.

    Better yet, have squads of nuns go around whacking people with rulers.

    It's very memorable, let me tell you. Just once in grade school I had a nun hit my knuckles with a ruler, and it hurt like a sonuvabidge. I still remember it (and occasionally daydream about punching that nun in the face).

    testicular lebensraum

    Reminds me of an old joke: "These pants are like a cheap hotel -- no ballroom."

  • ||

    Stevo: In keeping with separation of church, we'll need secular nuns. There's a joke somewhere between secular and testicular, but I've got to catch my train...

  • ||

    testicular lebensraum

    In my neighborhood that's called "going Commando"...

  • ||

    The trains wouldn't be so crowded if people had to pay the full cost of a trip.

    Not in NYC. Not to give them any ideas, but the train would have to get a LOT more expensive and/or annoying before I shell out money for a car and places to park it day and night.

  • MP||

    Subsidizing NYC subways (and NYC transit in general) is grossly inefficient. There are few reasonable alternatives. Only fools and rich people commute to NYC via car. They should charge full fare and offer transit stamps (like food stamps) to people of low means.

  • ||

    They should charge full fare

    I wouldn't object to some sort of variable fare based on distance - but that would never fly, given that poor people often travel the furthest in NYC.

  • Adam||

    Can we get a ban on the goddamn filthy, foul-smelling bums that plague the subway?

    Can we just sell the subway to private owners?

  • ||

    When I lived in NYC, I didn't mind subsidizing the subways. Compared to other transportation subsidies (like roads), the public trans ones were downright efficient.

  • ||

    Adam,

    Heh - try San Francisco: there are more bums, and the busses are a lot smaller than a subway car. NYC's transit smells sweet in comparison.

  • s.m. koppelman||

    Funny, for the 10 years or so I was last living in NYC, I could swear every single one of those rules was already on the books.

    Were they enforced often? No. I sometimes wished the coffee one was, but I suspect I was in the minority. Still, no eating or drinking means much easier cleanup and lower operating costs without getting into whether it also reduces the number of people suing after they get burned by someone else's coffee or banged up by some idiot who can't get off his bike and hold onto it.

    Would Libertarian Planet's privately run subway really have no rules?

    I suppose they'd allow coffee drinking and levy surcharges accordingly, but what subway operator would want nubskulls on bikes barreling into other pating riders on the platforms and careening around a lurching train? Do the spreadsheets really predict demand for some kind of Xtreme subway full of passengers maiming each other?

  • ||

    You must be new here, Koppelman. On Libertarian Planet, "Private good -- public bad!" is an article of faith, something not to be questioned by your blaspheming logic.

  • ||

    Minor victory?

    Temporary Reprieve?

    The NY Times is saying that this has been put on hold for reevaluation.

    I bet it was the prospect of having to face millions of angry coffeeless morning riders.

  • ||

    Would Libertarian Planet's privately run subway really have no rules?

    Unlikely. In my dream world, there would be competing private subway lines. (How? I dunno, maybe the actual trains would be owned by different companies that would pay to run their trains in the tunnels owned by a company or association that coordinated traffic in them. Something along those lines.) They could set their own rules for passenger behavior, and people would choose which subway lines they rode on based on whether they liked the rules, how much the fares cost, etc. Any of the private subways could decide "no bikes" or decide to provide bike racks. They could decide "no coffee" or sell coffee, donuts, bagels, etc. in every train.

    Mmm, bagels...

    ...Ahem. But that's what subways on (my) Libertarian Planet looks like, since you asked.

  • ||

    Yeah, my inner fascist, too, comes to boil during my daily ride on the DC subway. I swear to christ, there are assholes WHO CLIP THEIR FINGERNAILS. I come so close to yelling

    "Are you going to take your fucking shoes off next and clip your goddamn toenails?! What about your nose hairs?! Please!! Go ahead!! This whole fucking world is your bathroom!!"

    I'm going to flip..

  • M1EK||

    Mo,

    Quiet! Libertarians don't like to talk about the elephant in the tent (road subsidies) - it's much more logical to complain about the mouse (transit subsidies). It's just a coincidence that suburban Republicans^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcitizens tend to use the roads and not the buses/trains.

  • Mr. Nosuch||

    So they are considering a rule that says I can't pass between cars (even if the train isn't moving?) but there's no rule saying other passengers have to meet any level of hygiene?

    Because some mornings the E train is a veritable shelter on wheels, and almost all the non-homeless passengers are jammed into the three cars that don't happen to have one or two solitary homeless, snoozing away, surrounded by bags, filling the car with the smell of urine and decay.

    I asked a conductor about this, and he said there's nothing they can do. Turns out he was wrong, they can ban people from moving to a car that doesn't stink.

    Thanks MTA!

    (And as much as Bloomie is a fount of bad ideas, this isn't his fault.)

  • ||

    M1EK,

    Not sure who you're referring to. Most libertarians I know complain just as fiercely about public roads. Oh, and very few libertarians are republicans, no? Or maybe they wouldn't be called libertarians?

  • ||

    Just so you know:

    Bikes, strollers, enormous bags of empty cans and anything else that takes up more room that a standard person should be banned during rush hours. Any other times of day, fine, but between 7 to 9 and 4 to 6 those things are a nuisance.

    Coffee cups don't bother me, but it is amazing seeing people eating full meals in a train so dirty I'd think twice about pissing in a corner of it.

    The IND trains (at least the A train) already bar people from going from car to car by locking the doors between cars. The IRT doesn't do that yet, and so I guess they get more beggars that way. While I enjoy (and pay) anyone who sings, dances, or has a stand up routine, it's nice to see the beggars go from car to car without getting much money.

    And yes, all of these things are already forbidden. If that short fuck in Gracie mansion knew anything about 98% of his constituents he would know this already.

  • M1EK||


    Not sure who you're referring to. Most libertarians I know complain just as fiercely about public roads. Oh, and very few libertarians are republicans, no? Or maybe they wouldn't be called libertarians?


    I've never met a libertarian who argued that we should eliminate road subsidies FIRST and get after transit subsidies LAST, which is actually the way it would happen in a fair world. The road subsidies are much larger AND are disbursed primarily to those who didn't need any help anyways.

    As for the identification as libertarian, perhaps I was too subtle. Most self-identified libertarians might as well be Republicans when it comes to issues of road subsidies and the overall mess of suburban sprawl.

  • ||

    I've never met a libertarian who argued that we should eliminate road subsidies FIRST and get after transit subsidies LAST...

    That's perhaps because there's already a mechanism called "the fare" to price and charge for transit use. Until someone comes up with a way to price and charge for road use we have to rely on poor approximations of user fees like the gas tax and local option sales taxes*.

    I'm not saying you're wrong. I think a lot of people believe that the gas tax pays for more of the road system and are unaware of the amount that comes from sales taxes and other general revenue. Indeed the flow was once in the other direction so that drivers could actually say they were subsidizing others.

    *This has become the favored method for counties to expand their arterial road systems in Florida. Such sales taxes are for a specific purpose and need to be approved by the voters so allegedly there is some kind of "implied consent".

  • M1EK||

    Isaac,

    That's fine in theory; but in fact single-occupant vehicle users were NEVER a net donor to other transportation modes. In the early days, all roads were built from local taxes (didn't apply to motorists in specific); and the early advent of gas taxes was an attempt to start PAYING BACK the money BORROWED from other FEDERAL tax receipts for the initial segments of the Interstate Highway System. Of course, that never happened; and a big chunk of roadway spending since then has always come from not-even-close-to-user-fee sources like property and sales taxes.

    Sales taxes are by far the worst way to pay for roads, if you believe in the market, by the way. Even property taxes are better justified for this purpose. So mentioning local-option sales taxes didn't help your cause, and anyways, even in Florida, property taxes still outweigh sales taxes as a source of funds for arterial roadway construction.

    An honest libertarian would say "yes, it's difficult to toll every road; but we ought to make sure that every penny of roadway construction, maintenance, and ancillary costs (including appropriate compensation for nearby property devaluation) is covered by some combination of tolls and gasoline taxes; preferably as much tolls as possible".

    Today, what we have is: urbanites get screwed because they pay property and sales taxes for highways whether they use them, pay gas taxes for highways (most states don't allow them for non-state-roadways) they're much less likely to use (i.e. they're more likely to drive on city-owned arterials), and when there IS roadway spending in their neck of the woods, it's almost always in the form of "move out of your house; we need it for this superhighway for the suburbanites".

    Transit subsidies are a friggin' drop in the bucket compared to that crap.

    I write about this a lot; see the blog for more.

  • ||

    So mentioning local-option sales taxes didn't help your cause...

    It is not my "cause", I was simply making some observations about your post.

  • ||

    Sales taxes are by far the worst way to pay for roads...

    I agree. I thought that I made it fairly plain that I did not like the use of Sales Tax for this purpose.

    As I said I was making observations I was advocating nothing.

  • ||

    Incidentally in the last the voters in Orange County (Orlando) FL rejected a property (I think) tax levy to expand I-4 largely because they were (quite correctly in my view) persuaded that the major beneficiaries would be commuters from the two counties to the north.

    In many states politicians have been reluctant to raise the gas tax rate (it is typically a flat per gallon charge rather than a percentage, so it has not kept up with inflation) because of voter sensitivity to increases in gas prices. In fact last year during a price spike Florida rescinded the tax for one month. What politicians won't do for votes.

  • ||

    Incidentally in the last election...etc.

  • ||

    An honest libertarian would say "yes, it's difficult to toll every road; but we ought to make sure that every penny of roadway construction, maintenance, and ancillary costs (including appropriate compensation for nearby property devaluation) is covered by some combination of tolls and gasoline taxes; preferably as much tolls as possible".

    Actually I don't know what "libertarians", honest or otherwise, you have been associating with.

    The "pure libertarian" position, as I have divined it over the years, is that roads should be privately owned, funded entirely with fees collected directly from users and constructed on rights-of-way acquired entirely on the open market without the use of Eminent Domain.

    And Mass Transit would be privately owned and funded entirely with fares collected from passengers and operated either on the roads mentioned above (with compensation paid to the owners of said roads) or on the transit company's own rights-of-way acquired entirely on the open market without the use of Eminent Domain. In such an evironment Mass Transit might be able to compete quite favorably.

    I don't know.

    Such an environment bears no resemblance to any real world situation that I have ever experienced. But that does not mean that it should not be given some consideration.

  • ||

    M1EK: I too object to your characterization. Removing any state subsidy any time improves choice. Perhaps most don't grasp the size of road subsidy. Or from a pragmatic angle, we have a better chance of actually cutting transit subsidy because a relative few are on that teat, and even fewer are monied Republicans who might lobby against it.

  • ||

    The "pure libertarian" position, as I have divined it over the years, is that roads should be privately owned, funded entirely with fees collected directly from users and constructed on rights-of-way acquired entirely on the open market without the use of Eminent Domain.

    Just to add 2 cents, there are other ways to pay for private roads other than user fees.

    1) The "mall" model. Your local mall provides you with parking spaces, a place to walk around under shelter, drinking fountains, public restrooms, benches to sit and rest and people watch and meditate, sometimes even relaxing indoor gardens and decorative fountains -- usually at no cost to you. Similarly, a private road could be paid for by an association of merchants with businesses along that road, to encourage you to travel that road and visit their businesses.

    2) The "advertising-supported broadcast TV/radio program" model. Driving on the road is free to you, but you drive past a lot of billboards. Ad fees pay for the road and its upkeep.

    3) The "philanthropy" model. Welcome to Soros Avenue, the Bill Gates Memorial Freeway, The Trumpian Way, and Sam Walton's WalStreet, funded by donations or endowments from these billionaires or their estates. (I suspect only a small number of roads could be funded this way, but I might be wrong.)

    4) Various combinations of the above, possibly including user fees as well (but such fees would be lower than for roads that relied on them exclusively).

    5) Other arrangements I haven't thought of. People are ingenius.

  • M1EK||

    Dynamist,

    I actually stated that I understand WHY libertarians lobby against transit subsidies - it is a combination of political expediency as you noted and a healthy dollop of hypocrisy (since most libertarians live in the suburban sprawl which relies on road subsidies for its very existence). No news there.

  • ||

    M1EK

    I question whether your assertion that "libertarians lobby against transit subsidies" but not against road subsidies is founded in fact. LP platforms usually have more to say about road funding than transit*.

    I find this in contrast to your blog which seems to be well-researched and informative. It makes a signifcant and useful contribution to the discussion of these issues. I will be visiting from time to time. Whether the Texas numbers you discussed are typical of the nation I don't know, but people really do need to get informed on the true level of subsidy (and not just on transportation issues).

    *If you wish to claim that this reveals a "libertarian" bias towards the autombile you'd be on firmer ground. But I fear you have simply gotten confused between Republicans and libertarians and some of us here get upset by that:)

  • ||

    Oh, and on topic, I agree with anyone here that said it sounds like these might in fact be some reasonable rules well within the rights of any transit operator to impose to ensure the maximum utility and comfort of the largest number of transit users while imposing the least inconvenience on the smallest number of users. This is something that people or organizations that have to handle large groups of people have to deal with all the time and does not exactly rise to the level of a "libertatrian crisis".

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