A Rider’s Bill of Rights

There is a proposed Metro-North rider Bill of Rights being circulated by the Connecticut Commuter Council. You can view it here; it would guarantee riders a seat, heat in the winter, courteous conductors with visible nametags, credit back for canceled trains, and better communication of on-time performance from MNR.

It’s on its fifth draft and is hardly official; the Commuter Council is simply proposing the Bill of Rights to the MTA, which is not obligated to agree to it.

Keep in mind Jet Blue unveiling its passenger Bill of Rights last year, which guarantees fliers stuck on the ground with TV, food and drink , “access to clean restrooms,” and a way off the plane if it’s stuck on the tarmac. (“JetBlue will not permit the aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours,” unless it’s a safety or security emergency, says Jet Blue’s Bill.)

Of course, that was before Jet Blue passengers were stuck on the tarmac for seven hours in Florida the other day.

In any event, Metro-North has a rider Bill of Rights–or, at least, a 10 Commandments that would negate any need for a Bill of Rights if riders (and conductors) were to live by it. It is mine. And it is here.

1. Thou shalt leave the seat next to thou unadorned with books and bags until the train starts moving, thus making it available for fellow riders. Once the train starts moving, it’s OK to put thou’s crap there.

2. Thou shalt not stare at thou’s mobile device and impede the progress of the group while walking to and from the train.

3. Thou shalt emphasis the “personal” in personal music devices by keeping thou’s iPod volume at a reasonable level. Thou may enjoy Insane Clown Posse. We, however, do not.

4. Thou shalt dispose of thou’s garbage, be it beer cans, coffee cups or newspapers. C’mon, folks, this isn’t Shea Stadium.

5. Thou shalt not engage in personal grooming activities, such as flossing and nose-hair trimming, on the train. Applying makeup is OK, I guess.

6. Thou shalt not place soaking wet umbrellas and raincoats in the overhead rack so that they drip on fellow riders’ heads.

7. Thou shalt not snore. We’ll affix a Breathe-Rite strip to thine nose if we have to. Don’t think we won’t.

8. Thou shalt use thy cellphone only for essential calls, and only then with thou’s inside voice. Thou shalt not pore through thine phone book looking for people to call to kill time. Uh, read or something. There are plenty of free papers out there.

9.  Thou shalt have thy ticket ready for the conductor. Imagine thou is the conductor. How frustrated would thou be to have to wait for someone to fish their ticket or pass from their pocket? Thou knows the guy is coming.

10. Thou shalt not let thy leg, shoulder or elbow cross the invisible line in between seats. Unless, of course, thou is particularly large, in which case thou should drive.

[previously ran March 2009]

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