NYC packs some punch behind plea to give the disabled your seat

disabled seat-MTA.jpg

A new ad campaign by New York City Transit puts a firmer squeeze on passengers to offer disabled folks a seat.

“Please Offer a Seat. (It’s not only polite, it’s the law.)” So says a new public service ad, as reported in the New York Times City Room blog.

“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

I would love to see the CTA start such a campaign. I’ve watched helplessly as very pregnant women or guys with crutches stood while able-bodied passengers — many times young men — sat by, totally oblivious to their plight.

I’ve discussed this pet peeve many times before. Let’s be a little nicer to each other folks.


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  • I see them standing too, but a lot of times they don't bother asking for the seat. In fact, some people enjoy standing as a matter of pride and prefer not to be asked if they'd like to sit down. Are there that many young men who are refusing requests for their seat? I've never seen it.

  • I don't understand why this is regularly put on men, I disagree, it seems to me the groups of young women are most notorious for this. Just Sunday I had seen, as I stood near the back, a group of teen-20ish girls taking up the entire front section of the bus on their way to the beach, acting oblivious to the stream of elderly and disable folks that had to stand or walk to the back because of them.

  • I agree with Chicagoside. Just recently I was on the bus wheen a woman boarded, carrying a small child. Several passengers offered the woman a seat and she refused. I guess she underestimated how long it would take to get to her destination, because the next time someone offered her a seat (about 15 minutes later), she gladly accepted.

  • What about invisible disabilities for those sitting (and otherwise looking able-bodied)? I probably look like a normal 20-something who could reasonably give up her seat, but thanks to a recently-diagnosed condition, standing is not always a very good idea for me. I wonder if I'd end up getting fined in NYC... or maybe I'd always have to carry a doctor's note.

  • In reply to rhoticity:

    I, too, am curious about that. You would never know by looking at my mom that she is handicapped, and I'm sure she'd be judged for remaining seated. Aside from carrying the doctor's note or her handicapped placard (or showing the scars that cover her body), I don't know how she would avoid this issue.

  • I have often offered my seat to people who looked as though they needed it, but they usually refused. The last time, a woman screamed at me, "Having a vagina is not a disability!!!" If you need the seat I am sitting in, you will have to ask.

  • Seriously... It's rather sexist to say that only men should have to give up their seat. On most buses the proportion of men to women is fairly equal, but I never see women give up a seat. I think you need to redirect your scorn.

    Also, there is usually extremely obese people near the front that never give up their seat for elderly, etc. Why not pick on them too if you're picking on young men?

  • this is illustrated beautifully at

  • In reply to mickcube:

    In 2 of those photos, it appears he still could have had a seat if he was less concerned with taking a picture and more concerned with actually sitting.

    Also, his site does not make it apparent if the rest of the train was at capacity, meaning no other seats available.

  • In reply to chris:

    I noticed that also, but in both cases neither of them appeared to make a courteous gesture by taking their feet off the next seat, or provided a little extra space at little expense to their own comfort...

    It did say that the train was at capacity, but realistically does it matter if there are zero seats available? Even at 90% filled, does it seem like the right thing to make grandma move all the way to the other end just because she wants to sit down? I would hope not

  • In reply to chris:

    What? "I've watched helplessly as very pregnant women or guys with crutches stood while able-bodied passengers -- many times young men -- sat by, totally oblivious to their plight."

    Why would you watch helplessly, does your mouth not work, say something to them.

  • I disagree about women not standing up for seniors or people with disabilities--I see them give up their seats just as much if not more often.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    Obviously you and I have had different experiences. I never said they don't, I said I never see it. I ride the bus at least 10 times a week.

  • In reply to Joe001:

    There are people who give seats up (regardless of whether they are "priority seating") and people who would not get up if the bus were on fire. A simple statement on the voice deal that "priority seating is for the disabled etc. etc." should be sufficient.

    By the way, when I do feel it is appropriate to give someone a seat, I usually prefer to just get up and walk away. If the person does not want the seat and someone else gets it, that's OK. I was willing to stand anyway. This method avoids the is-she-pregnant issue, the are-they-old-enough issue, and the other awkward issues that arise.

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