The MTA has a new boss–Joe Lhota–and the guy has a plan to fix the subways. That’s a good thing.
I’ve been riding the subways my entire life and it’s true–they’ve become more crowded, less civil and full of panhandlers. It’s pretty intense down there and I wouldn’t blame anyone for embracing the handlebars of a Citibike and hanging on with all their might. Of course, as rough as the subways are now, the ride is nothing compared to the late ’70s and early ’80s when they were covered with graffiti and had no air conditioning. Now THAT was rough.
(As an aside, it reminds me of the time then-Mayor Ed Koch, who used to be considered an outrageous politician in the pre-Donald Trump era, suggested he would have wolves guard the train yards to keep out the graffiti taggers. Wolves!! He settled on dogs and razor ribbon but I digress.)
One of Lhota’s ideas is to take out some of the seats and stuff more commuters into each car. As someone who often does not get a seat, I can’t say I’m opposed to this idea. While I’ve been mostly standing, I’ve become a student of how commuters find seats, give up seats and where they sit.
Here are a few observations:
— A woman will never sit next to a man if she has a choice.
— Certain ethnic groups will pretty much kill you for a seat. (I know, I know, it’s not very PC of me but, hey, I’ve been watching you!) The same ethnic groups do not respect the right of commuters to exit the subway car first and rush in like an angry herd of cattle late to the trough.
— No one wants to get up if they have a seat–not for a pregnant woman, an old man or a kids on crutches–but they will, grudgingly. Why do you think so many sitting commuters ride the subways with their eyes closed? They do not want to see anything that might force them to give up their seat.
— The only group guaranteed a seat are children. Now this makes me a little crazy. I can understand rising for babies and toddlers but I do not stand for anyone above the age of five. They can stand and build up that New York toughness.
— I don’t know why but older people do not ride the subways. I often play this game where I look around the subway car and count how many people I think are older than me. I’ve never gotten to five.