MTA launches sign campaign aimed at poor rider etiquette

You may have read about the satirical, anonymously-posted signs posted all over the London Underground over the last year or two. They look exactly like official London Underground signs, but instead display messages such as: “Don’t acknowledge fellow passengers or sustain eye contact beyond 2 seconds. Please respect urban solitude.” Or, slightly more alarmingly, “For a more efficient service, please alight at the next stop where a team of heavily drugged sloths will drag you to your destination.”

From the MTA.

Signs like these will appear in the subway beginning this month. From the MTA.

Photographs of those signs went viral and provided lots of comic relief — but the New York transit authority (MTA) is hoping that their sign campaign will be taken very seriously. The MTA has initiated a “Courtesy Counts” campaign featuring signs that display the “Do’s” and “No No’s” of subway etiquette.

Examples of “No No’s” include hogging the pole, blocking the door, and even clipping your fingernails. One sign in particular has already attracted a fair amount of attention. The sign in question features a stick figure seated with his legs splayed out to the side, thereby hogging more than his fair share of available seating. The caption reads: “Dude… Stop the Spread, Please. It’s a space issue.” The offending behavior, dubbed “Manspreading,” has lots of people giggling — but it’s no laughing matter to the MTA.

The signs are all based on frequent, actual complaints from New York City subway passengers. Wearing a backpack? A sign will ask you to remove it to save space. Spot a pregnant woman standing up? A sign will “gently, but firmly” remind you to give up your seat.

The MTA may have unveiled the signs with a straight face, but they clearly have a sense of humor. One sign admonishes people who might be inclined to use the pole to dance on the subway: “Pole[s] are for your safety, not your latest routine,” it reads.

Jen Kirby of NYMag reports that the signs will begin appearing in subway cars throughout January, and they’ll spread (but not “manspread”) to buses and commuter cars shortly after.

We think the campaign is a good idea. Signs are certainly more efficient — and less awkward — than requiring an MTA employee to stand in each subway car, scouting for and confronting pole dancers.

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