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Transit Chief Opposes Subway Food Ban, Apologizes to Bill's Sponsor

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

eating on subway Eating a slice on the subway gives new meaning to food on the go. (Caitlyn Kim/WNYC)

New York City's new transit chief said he opposes a bill that would ban food on the subways despite a rat infestation in the system — but backpedaled Tuesday on remarks he made about the sponsor of the bill.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota told The New York Times he's watched too many children eating their breakfast on the train to support such a ban and said it would impact minority communities. He also said state Senator Bill Perkins of Harlem, the bill's sponsor, does nothing but "talk and talk and talk" and "does nothing."

The bill calls for violators to be fined up to $250.

In a statement Tuesday, Lhota said Perkins was an “excellent legislator.”  Lhota also said he shares Perkins commitment to addressing the problem of rats on the subway.

But Perkins said he was disturbed by Lhota's remarks in the Times that the bill "severely hurts and impacts minority communities."

“I don’t know why race had to come into this," he said. "This is not a race issue, this is a quality of life issue."

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Comments [1]

Lliam from Manhattan

I work as a Creative Arts Therapist, raising the spirits of hospitalized children and their families. There are days when I have to spend an hour or more on subways to get to the hospitals. One of the ways I use this time efficiently is to eat my breakfast on the way. I am always conscientious with the trash. This subway food bill would turn this necessary part of my work day into an illegal action. Eating on the subway does not bring rats, being a slob does, a form of littering which I believe already is ticket-able.
Remember the subway adds from years ago that read "If there weren't so many pigs, there wouldn't be so many rats." Fine the people who leave food, not simply eat it.
I saw a school boy a few weeks ago with a bag of two slices of pizza he was taking home. In the normal jostling that happens on trains, one slice fell on to the floor. Should you also fine people who simply carry food? This bill unfairly targets school children and hard working commuters and must not be passed. Please find another way to address the rat problem.

Feb. 17 2012 11:16 AM

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