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July 19, 2010
Deterring Subway 'Seat Hogs'
Transit riders of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your seats.
This clarion call for attention on crowded subways is inspired by a story on "seat hogs" in The Washington Post that prompted a blogging endorsement by Michael Tomasky of The Guardian. How do you nudge people who take up more than their allotted seat space on subways to be mindful of other passengers?

The problem is worst during the pre-morning and afternoon rush-hour peaks. Few people hog seats when crowding becomes crushing, but the practice is placing a strain on civility in Washington and on other subway systems around the world.

Seat-hogging also is becoming a problem on Amtrak trains, especially in busy sectors like the Northeast Corridor, says Tomasky.

Here's an opportunity for public relations to contribute to civility in the world's subway cities. In New York, seat hogs risk $50 fines levied by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and enforced by its transit police. So far, Washington's Metro has chosen to rely on civility in the capital city.

What might deter seat-hogging? Catchy placards maybe? A Web resort is already in place -- a New York rider has created Seathogs.com, which publishes photos (lots of riders have smart phones, of course) of riders who sprawl or place packages or briefcases on the seat next to them. (Maybe placards for Seathogs.com?) 

So connect with the Metro (or wherever your trains are running) and strike a blow for thoughtfulness in the world's subway cities. 




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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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