New SubTalk puts underground ethics on display

By · Published in 2009


Over the last two weeks, I’ve talked a bit about the ethics involved in riding the subway. We looked at the age-old debate concerning the emergency exits and then went in-depth on some of the more selfish people in the subways.

This week, the MTA unveiled a new ad campaign focusing around subway ethics and the law. As part of a drive to remind straphangers to give up their seats for a disabled rider, new SubTalk ads debuted on Monday. Transit also plans to print reminders on the backs of MetroCards beginning in September.

“We take our commitment to the disabled community very seriously,” NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said in a press release. “With this campaign, we want to remind our customers that not all disabilities are visible. We’re asking riders to look around and be aware of others who may need that priority seat.”

The Times went more in depth on the new awareness campaign:

“It’s the first time we’ve really stressed this,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, vice president for corporate communications at New York City Transit, the largest arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Those who decline to give up a seat on request face up to a $50 fine, he said. (The new campaign also warns that “not all disabilities are visible.”) …

Mr. Fleuranges said it would be hard to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign. “We don’t have the staff to monitor that,” he said in an e-mail message. “Where we hope this campaign has an impact is in the area of customer education — in that our riders understand why these seats are made available and hope, if asked, they provide the seat to a fellow customer who requests it.”

In a way, it’s a sad commentary on the state of New Yorkers and their attitudes toward others that this campaign even exists in the first place. Do subway riders not know they should give up seats to those who need? Are we too involved in our iPhones and Blackberries to bother with other people?

Don’t get me wrong; after a long day, I like my seat as much as the next guy. Yet, someone who obviously cannot stand can have my spot any day of the week. The more sensitive aspects of this new campaign involve those with disabilities that are not visible. Maybe, then, this latest effort will target those. Either way, stand up if you see someone who needs the seat. It’s the right thing to do.

After the jump, a look at the version of the ad that will be hanging in buses. Click the image above or the one below to enlarge.


6 Responses to “New SubTalk puts underground ethics on display”

  1. Alon Levy says:

    If I were disabled, I’d be outraged that the MTA is spending money on these ads rather than on making more stations barrier-free.

  2. Scott E says:

    I’ve got two issues with this: (1) Why just the seats at the ends of the cars? If I’m sitting in the middle of the train and a disabled person needs a seat, does this mean I have the right to deny it to them? (2) The picture is outdated. Sometime last year, someone had the brilliant idea to scratch the stickers off of the seat-backs and hang them much higher on the wall, above the advertisement. Not only is this a less-visible location, but it leaves the seats even more scratched up, and is a waste of time and money (I’ve noticed it on the 3 and 7 trains. Don’t know about the IND/BMT).

  3. rhywun says:

    Why just the seats at the ends of the cars?

    Because it’s easier to “police”. I simply don’t sit in those seats if they’re available, because everybody knows those seats are “reserved”. If *every* seat was effectively reserved for people with disabilities, there would be more conflict that there needs to be. Of course you should give up your mid-car seat if someone asks, but you can’t “police” that.

  4. Anthony says:

    Unfortunately I also see the potential for people to make up some kind of disability to get seats for themselves since “not all disabilities are visible”.

  5. herenthere says:

    Your emergency exits link isn’t showing up, you’re missing a ” at the end of the anchor tag.


  1. […] fingers and fries under her seat, I’ve looked at those who abuse emergency exits, those who do not give up seats to the aged, infirm or pregnant, those who grope others. The subways are fraught with people too unaware of their surroundings to […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>