Like all entities with a big ego, the New York City subway system struggles to admit it is failing. Sure the MTA sent out a Twitter apology, but Governor Cuomo is doing his best to refuse responsibility for controlling the agency, and the system’s current status as being in a State of Emergency has resulted in little more than some arrowed floor mats. The seemingly few trains that bother running are derailing, people are jumping out of their cars just to get to work on time, and the tracks are literally on fire – but what solution do those humans chosen to lead us propose? That if only us plebeian straphangers wouldn’t be such hungry slobs, maybe the system would work.
At a Penn Station press conference Tuesday – following a track fire which temporarily suspended B and C service and injured nine people Monday – MTA Chair Joe Lhota told reporters, “These fires all start with trash being thrown down,” into the tracks, which led to talk regarding a portion of that trash being food, leading to a question of food being banned on the subway, the Post reported. “[T]here have been a lot of recommendations about what foods are appropriate, what foods are not,” Lhota said, according to the Post, noting a recent harrowing experience he had on the 2 train where a straphanger was eating “a lot of rice” from a Styrofoam container of Chinese food. As well, an “education program” regarding what foods are and are not subway appropriate is in the works by the MTA, The Post reports.
That banning food from the subway will prevent track fires, or the subway’s rat problem is exactly the aesthetic over function reasoning Governor Cuomo loves but his constituents, per his slipping poll numbers, abhor. The people reap real results – a reliable public transit system we can trust – Albany prefers shiny new things they can pose with: Who needs modern infrastructure when you can have pulsating LED’s on every bridge in town?
Back in 2012, Albany considered a bill banning food in the subway which Lhota strongly opposed on the basis that, “It severely hurst and impacts minority communities. I don’t want to deny the kid the only time that day he’s going to get food,” the New York Times reported at the time.
Don’t be fooled by this scapegoat of snacking straphangers being the root of the problem. Yes, consider the already miserable, delayed space you share with your fellow New Yorkers when you go to eat your tunafish sandwich, hardboiled egg, or other dank food on a packed, rush hour 3 train, but consider it for the etiquette reasons, for the smell karma. The subways are failing because they’ve been mishandled for over half a century and have a steampunk wet dream of a signal system. The subway is not failing because of New Yorkers’ love for Chinese food, a love which can’t be contained by Styrofoam alone and ends up canvassing cars in rice, leading to rat infestations and trash fires.
At least if they do ban food in the subway, we can have a most delicious revolt against it.