Transportation

‘Manspread’ away: BART scraps seat-hog ban

BART has dropped a never-enforced ban on seat hogs, scrapping a policy that would have fined riders who take up more than one seat and refuse to move when asked.
BART has dropped a never-enforced ban on seat hogs, scrapping a policy that would have fined riders who take up more than one seat and refuse to move when asked. The Associated Press file

“Manspreaders,” rejoice! (Everyone else, not so much). BART has rescinded a never-enforced ban on seat hogs.

The Bay Area transit agency’s governing board voted 5-4 Thursday to scrap a rule making it a crime to occupy more than one seat during rush hour, reports The Mercury News. The ban, which had never been put into practice, included a $100 fine for first offenders with repeat offenders facing fines up to $500.

The policy, adopted in April 2016 and originally set to go into effect last October, has never been enforced because the agency’s board never approved an enforcement policy. A change in the board’s makeup prompted the latest vote to drop it entirely, says The San Francisco Chronicle.

Directors opposed to the policy cited difficulties enforcing the rule, including the possibility of belligerent riders refusing to comply and causing delays or even violence. Others said mothers with small children – who don’t pay fares but often sit in their own seats – would technically be in violation of the rule. Travelers with shopping bags or suitcases also could run afoul of the policy.

Backers of the policy countered that it was intended to address homeless people and other riders who spread out into multiple seats and won’t move when asked, not mothers or people with suitcases, says The Mercury News.

Despite the vote to scrap the policy, the issue may not be going away for BART – the agency will look into a one-year pilot program addressing the seat hog problem for an extension to Antioch scheduled to open in May 2017.

The phrase “manspreaders” has been coined to refer to people, most often men, who sit in public transport with their legs wide apart to prevent others from sitting next to them.

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