For some reason, it’s often in the dead of night — when most subway trains are virtually empty — that the NYPD enforces the MTA’s one-seat-per-passenger rule.
A 24-year old waitress from Sunset Park learned this the hard way, when a late-night commute from her East Village restaurant resulted in a $50 fine and a disheartening encounter with New York’s Finest. On Monday at around 2:45AM, the woman who prefers to remain nameless was one of five passengers on an N train in Brooklyn. Two of them were taking up multiple seats, and after spending eight hours on her feet, she thought nothing of resting her legs on the seat next to hers.
She was shocked when a policeman standing on the platform at Pacific Street singled her out and ordered her to get off the train. She says that three other officers joined him and “surrounded” her on the platform while they took down information from her ID.
“At first I assumed there was something wrong with the subway, or maybe there was something going on,” she said to ANIMAL. “I asked, ‘Is everything okay? Have I done something wrong?’ I was nervous since the train was leaving and I knew I’d have to wait at least 40 minutes for another.”
It took several minutes before they finally explained what was happening: her feet were on the seat, and she was being fined for “obstruction of quality of life.” Having never heard of this rule, she asked if any relevant information was available. An officer curtly replied that there are “Rules & Regulations” pamphlets at every MTA booth. But when she asked an MTA employee upstairs, she says “he looked at me like I was crazy,” and informed her there were no such materials.
“I take that train all the time, maybe four nights a week, and I’ve never seen cops do anything like that. I’ve seen some really weird stuff at three in the morning, and they’re never there when people are peeing on the platform, or harassing you. If they had just given me a warning, I would have stopped and never done it again, knowing it was a violation. It just doesn’t seem right.”
Section 10 of the “Rules of Conduct” listed on the MTA’s website states that passengers may not “place his or her foot on a seat on a station, platform or conveyance.” But what upset her most was being fined for her first violation of a rule that’s not posted anywhere, and the way the cops dealt with the situation.
This is by no means the first instance of cops cracking down on late-night commuters to meet their quotas, but it always comes as a shock when these types of tickets are issued so arbitrarily.
“It made me feel like the NYPD aren’t there to keep me safe. I was taken off the train in the middle of the night and I had to either wait alone for 40 minutes, get out of the train and walk home, or try to find a cab. I think they had some other motive for giving this ticket, whether they needed to fill quotas, or this guy just sort of felt like it. I think I was picked out to achieve something that had nothing to do with keeping the trains safe.”
She plans to fight the charges.