Food on the Subway

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Annia Ciezadlo, journalist and author of Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War, says efforts to ban subway eating ignore the great global traditions of public eating. Listeners: What was your most recent meal on mass transit?


Annia Ciezadlo

Comments [121]

fuva from Harlemworld

There IS a class aspect to this.
And what about the candy, chips, etc. that are vended on the subways? If these are exempted, they'll feed rats too.
This much needed anti-littering enforcement might reverberate above ground too.

Mar. 02 2012 10:39 AM

Absolutely we should ban food and drink on the subway trains! Raising this as a class issue is ridiculous and offensive to all New Yorkers. The people who suffer from such gross behavior are actually the long-distance commuters. The proponents of this ban are working class transit workers. What an absurd argument this guest is making.

Mar. 01 2012 10:37 PM
sandra from the bronx

CONGRATS dboy for feeding your kid AT HOME!!!

I was raised by a single mom who had TWO jobs and
we always ate a quick breakfast at home like humans!

Better go get a bite to eat before I get on the subway and get back to work...

Mar. 01 2012 12:53 PM

Julia from Brooklyn wrote "Scheduling time to eat would literally eat into the time I carve out to earn money. I can't afford to lose $30 a day to eat above ground."
maybe we could save u more time if we let u poop on the platform and bathe in a fountain like the other animals. would that help?

Mar. 01 2012 12:39 PM

ruby from ny and NICK-

EXCELLENT point - you typed the words right out of my head.

Mar. 01 2012 12:34 PM

Nick from UWS-

You're attempting to discuss nut cases with the KING OF THE NUT CASES!!!

Mar. 01 2012 12:31 PM

why would coffee be OK? i think it smells gross and people alway spill it, on the seats and the floors (whole cups on the subway train floor, dangerous!)

Mar. 01 2012 12:31 PM

DarkSymbolist from NYC!

I'm with ya! 'Cept who becomes the arbiter? It becomes all grey...

...a little candy bar is okay but, not a jumbo candy bar . Salad is okay, chicken wings, no...

"He's got a granola bar why can't I crack open my sunflower seeds and leave the shells all over the f*n place??" sorta thing...

Unfortunately, I think it's gotta be food or no food.

Some folks need it simple.

Mar. 01 2012 12:29 PM
Randi from Brooklyn


The only hardship being created for MTA employees is the MTA itself!!! The other reason (besides inconsiderate, lazy, filthy riders) why the trains/buses are dirty is the fact that the MTA cut its cleaning crews.

I live in Brooklyn and my stop is Ocean Pkwy on the elevated section of Q train. We don't have a garbage problem, but we have a pigeon poop problem on the platform as birds nest in the steel spaces above the platform.
When I moved to that neighborhood 5 years ago, the station platform would get a hosedown from the hot water spray crew every other Sunday night. Now we're lucky if we get it once a month.

I've seen garbage cans overflowing at stations along the N/Q/R lines - its obvious that riders were trying to be responsible and do their part by putting their garbage in the trash bins. But its no good if the MTA doesn't do their part by hiring peole to empty those bins.

Mar. 01 2012 12:16 PM
ruby from ny

I agree with Nick from UWS. Since when does basic manners have to do with social class? I've know enough poor people who have excellent manners and plenty of affluent ones whose consideration for others is virtually non-existent. Your panelist's claim that eating should be condoned because it's a classist argument is about as classist an argument as I've ever heard.

Mar. 01 2012 12:13 PM
sandra from the bronx

Other things that should be BANNED on the subway:

Clipping Nails
Foul Language
Looking over other people's shoulders to read their newspaper
Talking loudly on cell phones
Sleeping on other people's shoulders
Feeding potato chips and soda to infants
Too Loud Bible Preachers
Bad Musicians
Unfunny Comics...
Hmmm...what did I leave out???

ps Would the rats also be fined for eating? : )

Mar. 01 2012 12:11 PM
Lydia J from NJ

Tom from UWS hit it on the head.

Lack of class even goes beyond the subway. The pig behavior is actually seen at restaurants for pete's sake! People who leave crumbs, trays and other trash lying around.

Mar. 01 2012 12:07 PM

disappointing interview by MrLeher.

Mar. 01 2012 12:03 PM
Tom from UWS

A question you might explore: are low-income kids actually the ones "forced" to eat breakfast on the train, for lack of another option? Or are low-income kids actually eating breakfast at school, in a school breakfast program?

It may not be the "underclass" eating breakfast on the train at all. (I've seen plenty of white collar folks who clearly got up late, on the train with wet hair, snarfing an egg mcmuffin, balancing coffee ... this is not a good thing on a crowded, rush-hour train - which is when it usually seems to be happening.

Mar. 01 2012 12:01 PM

Of course it should be banned.
It's creating a hardship for the employees who are supposed to
run and maintain the system.

I'm sure that Nina Totenberger remembers that one of the judicial decisions that was made much of during Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation hearings had to do with affirming a legal sanction of an adolescent who was eating french fries on the Metro. There surely was "high dungeon" in the Progressive communities then. How concerns change!

Mar. 01 2012 11:59 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

"Unfortunately, you can't differentiate which kind of eating is bad and which is okay..."

I don't see why not. A candy bar- no problem, a big meal where forks and knives are appropriate or has to come in a big white food container- banned. It's not brain surgery, it's quite easy to differentiate actually.

Mar. 01 2012 11:58 AM
Jon greene from Brooklyn

How fitting that your last guest happened to be an MTA train conductor. And how perfect that he turned out to be the epitome of an MTA employee: arrogant and belligerent, uncompromising and inflexible, hyperbolic and self-righteous in his anger. Sadly, these people's voices simply do not deserve full weight in the conversation, because they are too far gone to be reasoned with. Anyone who remembers the ugly, selfish and cynical behavior of NYC transit workers during their Christmas strike in the brutal winter of 2007 is reminded of just how little these public employees care for the needs and comfort of the public they serve. Their opinion in this debate should be discounted, if not wholly discarded.

Mar. 01 2012 11:58 AM
RJ from prospect hts

About the "sleeping eater": He may have been ill. Diabetics whose blood sugar is either low or high can fall into comas; if low, they may eat to try to raise it but it may be too late. Gross as it may have been, it would have been compassionate for someone to nudge the guy, wake him up, and ask if he's ok. Or at the least, stop a cop and say, I think someone's ill on car #1234.

Mar. 01 2012 11:57 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia (but a native New Yorker )

Notice how a lot of people seem willing to make exceptions for what THEY would do or don't find offensive. . . I agree that sitting next to someone who is eating Chinese take-out can be trying but there have been many times when I have traded taking the time to eat breakfast at home for an extra half hour's sleep and eaten my bagel with cream cheese and drunk my coffee on the train. People who drive to work eat and drink in their cars. And don't tell me that doesn't affect other people--it's a distraction like cell-phone talking and texting and could lead to accidents. My point is that we live in a society where a lot of people find it difficult to eat all their meals at home. Maybe we can have "no eating" subway cars the way there are "quiet" cars on the commuter trains.

Mar. 01 2012 11:56 AM
ruby from ny

Maybe if Americans as a society would set aside more time for eating and make it more of a priority, then we wouldn't need to expose other subway riders to the unhygienic nuisance of eating in inappropriate settings. Just for once, can we consider the collective good instead of always getting defensive about our individual rights?

Mar. 01 2012 11:56 AM
Nick from UWS

@jgarbuz from Queens: we cannot have wastebaskets, because the now the likelihood of a nutcase hiding a bomb in one is unfortunately extremely high. In the London Underground, there is not one single trash can in the whole system.

Mar. 01 2012 11:54 AM

Turner from Ridgewood, you "dirty hippie"...BRAVO!!!

Good job!

Mar. 01 2012 11:53 AM
Gin from New Jersey

I agree that most of the litter on the subway is discarded food or food paper wrapping. But the rat problem alone is enough to justify a food-eating ban. Passengers on the NJ Transit buses into Manhattan, where they are usually seated and 'settled', are not permitted to eat.

Mar. 01 2012 11:52 AM
Tom from UWS

Class element? Please. maybe a "lack of class" element.

There is a big difference between a candy bar or bottle of water, and a hot meal or hot cup of coffee, when consumed on a moving train. Public transportation is not the place to have a meal, or inflict your spills on others.

If people were conscientious, there might not be a problem. But, like that percentage of smokers who were careless about other people's clothes or desire to dine without inhaling smoke, there is a big - and growing - percentage of people who spill their rice and beans on the floor for others to walk in, or let their kids handle the bars with ketchup-covered hands, or leave a half-filled coffee cup under the seat to spill later, or are when the train stops short spill their drinks on others.

We are more and more a world of slobs. People don't have to eat EVERYWHERE. Think what the system could save if so much "cleaning up after" could be avoided. Think how much better the overall experience of mass transit will be if we start expecting people once again to act like civilized human beings, rather than animals at a trough.

For every mom who carefully cleans up after her kids eating their happy meals on the train, there is another who blithely - or helplessly - lets her infant toss Cheerios all over the floor.

It's not a class issue, but it might be a "lack of class" issue. Nothing wrong with demanding socially considerate behavior. Since behavior can be changed, let's go for it.

Mar. 01 2012 11:52 AM
stephanie from manhattan

obviously the problem is that people are slobs and think they're exempt from cleaning up after themselves. fine the litterers, don't ban eating. when i'm famished after work, being able to snack on my commute home prevents me from chewing off my arm or screaming at someone else! i would never eat hot food or a full meal on the subways, but i gotta say... i kinda like the tantalizing smells of someone else's food! doesn't everyone like the smell of french fries?

Mar. 01 2012 11:51 AM

I have a kid that needs to be at school in Manhattan, everyday from Brooklyn.

I've never fed him or allowed him to eat in the subway.

We eat breakfast at home where a kid should eat his breakfast...

Gimmie a break; poor kids won't get their breakfast...


Mar. 01 2012 11:51 AM
Leo in NYC

As with all things, when there is collective pride and a sense of ownership, people collaborate to keep their communities in good order. When we feel alienated and oppressed, we stop caring and resort to petty passive aggressions like littering, etc.

Mar. 01 2012 11:51 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I would have to disagree with a ban. There have been times when I'm going from work to an appointment by subway, and do not have time to stop to eat, so I might eat a yogurt, muffin, coffee, while on the train. There are any number of reasons why people might have to eat on the subway, and while it would be nice to get rid of the olfactory violation of someone opening a full box of fried chicken while on the subway, there would be no precedent to permit "snacks" versus "meals."

Anyway, annoying people on the subway are part of the charm of NYC; the city is already getting bland enough as it is.

Mar. 01 2012 11:48 AM
Nick from UWS

Of COURSE it should be banned. It's just more evidence of the rapidly increasing slovenliness and degradation of simple civil behavior. It's not about rats. It's not about the needs of diabetics; what an absurd thought. It's about consideration of others. CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS, YOU MORONS.

I once complained to a woman who was throwing fast food stuff on the floor in the subway as she was eating. She said "Go to hell. This is a public place. I can do what I want." This fundamental misunderstanding of what a "public place" means is at the root of all this crap. A public place is where you are on your BEST behavior, not your worst.

Mar. 01 2012 11:48 AM
lcruz from brooklyn

BAN IT! us traphangers that have been ridding NYC transit, like forever, know there are VOID signs over a hamburger/drink clearly visible on some trains, this is nothing new, start enforcing it, is disgusting and disrespectful to fellow strap hangers.

Mar. 01 2012 11:48 AM
michael leslie from midtown

This is a very crowded city, people just have to be more respectful of one another, you can't legislate that very easily but eating on the subway is one of those lines that should be drawn. It's gross and should be disallowed with with some flexibility, not hauling children off etc. It's not about class but it will be if people keep feeling grossed out by horrible smells and spilled food all over the cars. Never mind the people charged with cleaning it up, what do they deserve?

Mar. 01 2012 11:47 AM
BK TV from Williamsburg

Great news segment on Subway Eating

Mar. 01 2012 11:47 AM
AC from NYC

I don't think they should ban food on the subway. NYC is an on the go city and many people only have a chance to fuel themselves when in transit to whatever they have to do. Folks work a lot here. I would say maybe the MTA could invest in cleaning the subway cars and emptying the garbage more often. My relative who is a station agent says they really don't clean down there very much.

Mar. 01 2012 11:47 AM

Ban is a bad idea.

-- It probably won't work. (There has been such a ban on the PATH system for ages and folks still eat on PATH.)

-- Stiff penalties for littering and aggressive enforcement makes more sense.

-- It might be worth considering periodic fare variations based on clean-up cost. In other words, the cost of cleaning up litter gets shared by the entire ridership. This might create social pressure to be tidy.

Mar. 01 2012 11:46 AM
Molly from NYC

Remember the days when people moved to NYC to be a NYer, and get a way from their hometown? Now everyone wants it to be just like their home town.

Let's just seal NYC in a big hermetically sealed baggie and be like every other town. Next thing you know, they'll be shutting down the subway at 1am.

Mar. 01 2012 11:44 AM

Unfortunately, you can't differentiate which kind of eating is bad and which is okay...

it's gotta be eating, period.

Mar. 01 2012 11:44 AM

(Many people) eating on the subway is (are) disgusting, and much of the 'food' they eat is disgusting, but eating, itself, should not be banned. Littering already is proscribed, and that ban should be (better) enforced. Those that think it penalizes those 'without enough time' are wrong/silly. Yes, the smells are often repulsive, but NYC rarely smells pretty!

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
Gregory from The Bronx

I continue to read comments and unfortunately I am not surprised that there are many who view eating on subways as an entitlement and a necessity. I am sorry that we live in a society with people who are so languid and lazy-minded that they cannot get their act together and find a way to eat at home and not impose their gross habits on others. By the way, I have been in a bus depot and while waiting have observed the cockroaches streaming towards the buses.

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
The Truth from Becky

Yes I would prefer not to smell the sauerkraut either! Ban the food.

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
Clif from Manhattan

How about banning urinating on the trains and enforcing that!

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
Cesar from Manhattan

The MTA is just trying to cut costs by laying off train cleaners. If the MTA were serious about keeping trains and stations clean, the trains would be cleaned better as would the platforms and tracks.

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
oscar from ny

Easy, some zionist bought the mta now they will make ant xcuse to nake an xtra buck to build their ugly tower in ground 0

Mar. 01 2012 11:43 AM
nina from brooklyn, ny

last year i was sitting on a crowded train when i felt something shower down on me. i thought perhaps it was snow or rain off a man's collar, only to look up and see a man eating a cheese danish and allowing the delightfully cheese scented crumbs to rain down upon me...

Mar. 01 2012 11:42 AM
johna from manhatttan

i'm against the ban and agree that this is a class issue. if it's really about littering then that is what should be addressed. personally i'd be more likely to feel threatened by people leaning over me with their piping hot cups of coffee sloshing. and then there's the people who do their nail clipping in public

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Summary: People are pigs. If they were civil, we could simply all agree on reasonable standards - eg. drinking coffee and leaving with your cup in your hand, ok; eating McDonald's and leaving the bag, not ok. But people behave like animals, so forget it. I'd be in favor of the ban, but they would never enforce it anyway.

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM

I've been on the subway trainsin Korea and Japan. No one eats on the trains or platforms. the trains are very clean and I never saw a rat.

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

@ Phoebe

Lol, I agree..Axe bodyspray and all Axe products should be banned everywhere

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM
todd from Brooklyn

Oh, and the "conspiracy theory" Can I have a little of what the person generating this is smoking? Another selection from the looney bin…

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM
Dorian from Manhattan

How do we thread the needle between consideration and compassion to people who may need some nutrition? How could we write a law that says it's OK to eat, but it must be discreet? There's a difference between eating a big fish dinner with rice and a pungent sauce whose smell permeates the car, and having a cold cut sandwich or health bar. (For the record, I love big fish dinners with pungent sauce.)

Mar. 01 2012 11:41 AM
Jay F.

My solution: Add a restaurant car.

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I know I will get lambasted again, but has anyone thought of the RADICAL idea of putting waste baskets in every car??? I know this creates more work, as those baskets have to be emptied at the end of every ride. Nonetheless, just thinking out of the box, can we have WASTE BASKETS, or is that too radical or conservative an idea??

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM
Betsy Klompus from Brooklyn

I think they should ban food on the subway. They ban it in other cities and it keeps the subway cleaner. I have found food wrappers and sticky seats and floor on the subway. It is unfair to other riders. We need to respect our subway more as a mode of transportation, the issue of rats aside. It is not an extension of our homes, we are in public.
Perhaps we want to rethink our eating habits if we are concerned about people who only have time to eat on the run. Maybe we are not eating properly if we are eating fast food on the go! Teach people to feed their young children at home in a nurturing environment.

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM
Kathryn from Manhattan

Eating on the subway is rude, but so too are women who apply their makeup while on the subway!

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM
Bob from NYC

eating could be probably the only time during a day when parent can talk to their children. banning food is maybe to harsh but encouraging not eating in subway could be beneficial. eating there is simply matter of lack of culture same as putting foot on the seat or cutting nails.

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM

I have a 2 to 2.5 hour commute (total roundtrip) each day, and I manage to avoid eating on the subway. And it's not just fast food. I don't want somebody else's kimchi or caesar salad.

But Annia Ciezadlo has a point with the analogy to "preventing drunk driving by banning drinking."

But but: What's Annia Ciezadlo daily commute? When was the last time she had to deal with somebody elbowing her to make room for his lunch?

Mar. 01 2012 11:40 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

Why would you "have to eat" on the subway? Rats don't eat litter, they eat food.... You can have a litter free house and still have rats.

Mar. 01 2012 11:39 AM
Marie from Brooklyn, New York

I thought it was already banned.

Litter would be my motivation to ban eating on the subway. No food, no bottles, bags and cartons. No chewing gum splatters! No track fires.

Litter ticketing as a deterrent will never work. I clean litter in Prospect Park regularly and know from experience that cops are not suddenly going to fan out and start enforcing litter laws.

I'd like to know how many people eat on the subway because they must. That deserves more attention.

Mar. 01 2012 11:39 AM

I am fine with a strict enforcement of anti-littering laws.

As a type 1 diabetic, single mother working 40+ hours a day - if I couldn't snack on the subway - you'd all likely be delayed for the EMT emergency this would cause.

How about the screaming kids who don't get a snack. Will we ban kids form the subway next?

Mar. 01 2012 11:39 AM
sandra from bronx

Ban everything except water and baby formula in a spill-proof containers.
Eating on the subway is why most people don't digest properly, have indigestion, ulcers and/or are obese!!!
My commute is over an hour long but I would make a point of eating BEFORE entering the subway if it was banned!
I would miss my coffee, but oh well...

Mar. 01 2012 11:39 AM
RJ from prospect hts

1) Candy for diabetics is needed *after* we haven't had enough to eat--our blood sugar has dropped w/o food. So we need to be able to eat in order to avoid the state of illness that has resulted in low blood sugar.
2) The TA would have to shut down all of the kiosks on the platforms and in the stations to avoid people having food.

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
Julia from Brooklyn

I'm a freelance dance artist and a regular day frequently involves a morning class in one part of town, a shift in my administrative job in the afternoon, and a rehearsal in the evening. Scheduling time to eat lunch and dinner- which is crucial to dancers - would literally eat into the time I carve out to earn money. I can't afford to lose $30 a day to eat above ground.

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
Lliam Greguez 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.

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
todd from Brooklyn

I hate seeing people eat on the subway and of course there are disgusting examples but also much less offensive examples.
I do not support the ban however, because I think it represents a class issue. So many people eat on the subway less a matter of choice than necessity. Enforce litter laws, increase public education and you would reduce the practice. Don't hit a small nail with a sledge hammer!

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
Tom P from NYC

It will be hard to ban food on the subway when you have news stands on some platforms that sell snacks.

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
Susan from nyc

Although I think food should not be banned on the subways, I do think there should be an aggressive educational campaign to teach people about the effects of littering not just on the subway, but everywhere in the city. At one time, the city did this, but now there is more littering than ever. We need more education about sanitation and respect for our city and each other.

Mar. 01 2012 11:38 AM
charlie kruger from harrington park, nj

Sure, ban food. They already banned smoking everywhere, now let's see how the Starbuck's crowd feels about being second-class citizens!

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Joe B from brooklyn

Turning New York into Singapore?

This is New York and people are hustling just to get through the day. It's our culture for what it's worth. It's 3pm, you've been in four meetings and haven't eaten since that 8 o'clock banana. Have you ever tried to eat a sandwich and drink a beverage while walking? Yes you have! And good luck finding a park bench unless you're in midtown. For some people that short meal on the subway is their only recourse.

Let's just ban tuna fish sandwiches.

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Daniel Hildreth from Greenpoint

I feel about the "eating on the subway ban" how I felt about the smoking ban in New York City parks....while I do appreciate someone not blowing smoke in my face in a park and I don't want to smell your lunch on the train, I don't like the IDEA that I am breaking the law if I choose to smoke in a park or eat on a train. Yes, it is gross watching someone eat on the train, but mostly I feel bad for them that they have to have their meal on the R train. I think to myself, "I wish you could eat that sandwich somewhere more pleasant."

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Phoebe from Bushwick

If the smell is the concern, I would only support this if you ban cologne, perfume, and, worst of all, body sprays like axe. These things actually give some of us splitting headaches and allergy attacks, whereas food smells are just an inconvenience.

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Shani from Brooklyn

This is a class issue. For those of us that have to work 2, even 3 jobs, with 30 minutes to get from one job to another, subway time is our only time to eat. It's great you have the privileged of eating when and where you want to, but for some of us, this is the only option. C'mon New York, don't be so booshie.

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Louise from Manhattan

The reason the TA doesn't want food in the subway is that even when people throw garbage in the subway garbage cans, the rats get into the temporary garbage storage areas and thence throughout the system. Simple solution: IF YOU BRING IT IN, TAKE IT OUT. NO THROWING AWAY FOOD IN SUBWAY STATIONS OR TRAINS. Simple! Right?

Mar. 01 2012 11:37 AM
Joseph from Brooklyn

Grossest eating story: watching people eating sunflower seeds and dropping the seeds all around them without caring who was watching.

Littering was already illegal, that didn't stop them. There is no point in introducing more rules that won't be enforced.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
bernie from B train

"the great global traditions of public eating"
this is why academics are ridiculed's the nyc version of a global tradition of public eating- some person gets on the subway, sits right next to you, opens up a styrofoam container filled w/ smelly general tsaos chicken, shovels it into their mouth with fried rice flying everywhere, eats 85% of it, dumps the rest of the open container w/ the remaining "food" and grease on the floor below their seat, all while their ipod is blasting the worst music in the world loudly from their earbuds and simultaneously playing a video game on their phone w/ volume turned up to the max so the entire car can hear it, be bothered by it and smell their leftover food rotting on the floor of "our" subway. there's your "great global tradition of public eating". go write a book about that.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
steve from NYC

No one wants to eat on the subway. Ideally we would all have two Cadillacs and be able to eat in one of them (and leave the other one for driving). But until that happens, everyone needs to show a little compassion for people who have to ingest their food while staring at a sea of knees and elbows.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
Michael Boonstra from East Village

I don't buy it. Feed your kid breakfast at home. Get up 20 minutes earlier and have some quality time. You can find time for anything you want to do if you really want to do it. Meals should be a special time. People scarfing down a slice on the street; get a life already! This truly can't be the only time you have for a meal. Diabetics carry small sugar pills that can be easily taken anywhere if they feel they are in need.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
Peter from Manhattan

My initial response was "ban it!" But I'm sympathetic to the arguments on the other side, so on second thought: set aside one car as the food car, much as there are quiet cars on some of the commuter trains.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
Randi from Brooklyn

Here's the problem - If you ban eating on the subway, then the newsstands can't sell any food items anymore. This is a good part of their business and most of these guys barely pay the MTA rent each month. So this can be an economic problem for the MTA.

If you ban eating on the subway, then the transit workers shouldn't eat & drink down there either. A lot of the mess on the tracks comes from track workers that leave their mess.

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM

Do you really WANT to eat in the subway in the first place??? It's filthy!! All those people breathing, coughing and sneezing on your food... really???

...or, clipping their fingernails into your Big Mac™???

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
Julie from Astoria

Gotta say, as a student, and someone always rushing to get a meal in, I'm against this!

Best story: We were on our way from Astoria to Canarsie for a funeral, my husband and I are shoving breakfast wraps into our faces as quickly as possible knowing that we won't be eating until the evening. A young lady standing next to us, reading "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," gave us a look of complete disdain (rolled her eyes and curled her lip like Elvis). Naturally, I laughed and started to choke on my breakfast. Priceless!

Mar. 01 2012 11:36 AM
Sarah from Gowanus, Brooklyn

I fear that banning eating on subway will give the NYPD an other petty charge to harass riders with. Too many folks are already spending a night in the tombs for putting a bag on the seat next to them.

Mar. 01 2012 11:35 AM
n s from tribeca ny

Even though I find it being unpleasant being near people eating on the subway, and wouldn't do it myself, I think a ban on subway eating is rediculous. People who eat on the subway always look famished - no one eats there by choice, no matter how clueless.

Also rats will never leave the subways - that's a joke.

Mar. 01 2012 11:35 AM
Helen from manhattan

These people who talk about 'what if the train gets stuck and you'll just die if you can't eat' is crazy. when was the last time that you were stuck for more than 5 minutes between two stations?

Ban food all together, it will help with the littering. If you think don't have time to eat except for on the train, get up 5 minutes early and eat at home folks. I've worked 2 jobs while going to school full time and I always had time to eat at home.

Mar. 01 2012 11:35 AM
lori longbotham

It was 120 degrees inside the R train--that was not air conditioned. I was exhausted and couldn't believe I got a seat. Then the woman next to me opened a can of Vienna sausages which filled the car with their smell. After eating them she very loudly drank the liquid in the can and it was very very smelly.

Mar. 01 2012 11:35 AM
John from Manhattan

I have lived in two cities that ban food on the subway (DC and Atlanta) and both have had issues with the bans being used to target or harass african-american youths. Given the NYPDs current practice of stop and frisk, it seems that giving them yet an other pretext to harass young black men may not be a great idea.

Mar. 01 2012 11:35 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Funny - the fines for eating will be higher than if you were to beat the fare. People eating smelly things like chinese food is poor decorum but giving the NYPD another excuse to harass minorities is a bad idea. Perkins - the sponsor of this bill, should be ashamed of himself.

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
Suzanne Bee from Brooklyn

They should not ban food on subways. Some of us have no time or place to eat. Littering laws should be enforced. There should be more people hired to keep the subways clean.

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM

Food detecting lasers. Zap them right on the spot, and more room for rush hour riders!

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

I agree with RBC, snacking should be allowed, as should drinking coffee,etc but having a full on meal of spaghetti, or fried chicken, tacos,etc should be banned or fined

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
Carolyn from Upper East Side Manhattan.

I've eaten a small bag of nuts or chips as a snack, and drank water. The full meals should not be allowed. The argument that this is the only time children get to eat is preposterous. If the ban forces families to change this habit, all the better.

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
JEZ from 10039

isnt food already banned on the bus?

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
Lisa from New York City

Yes, yes, yes, ban eating on the subway! It won't stop most of the pigs from stuffing their faces and fouling public transportation, but a few might think twice when faced with the possibility of a fine. And saying that it impacts minority communities?!? Maybe these "minorities" can get up a bit earlier in the morning, and feed their kids _before_ leaving home.

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM

I think Washington, DC doens't allow food on the subway there...I don't think its a problem...

Mar. 01 2012 11:34 AM
Tim from Jackson Heights, NY

The grossest subway eating story I ever hear came from my partner. He's at work so he can't call in, I just had to share it.

He saw a man eating a whole raw fish, throwing parts of it up, then continuing to eat it!

Mar. 01 2012 11:33 AM
RJ from Harlem

BAN IT!!! it's disgusting! I'm Black and I can tell you that kids can get breakfast in their schools.

Mar. 01 2012 11:33 AM
Judith from Brooklyn, NY

I have to grab a bite and run to the train ... often... it is also part of a whole economy in each neighborhood and at the newsstands in the subways.
I DO THINK that eating a fried chicken meal that smells a lot is a bit extreme...but many people just have to eat on the way to their location.

Mar. 01 2012 11:33 AM
Dylan Peter from New York

Bsnning food a terrible, terrible idea. Enforce littering laws but don't steal this time from people and children who need or have only this time to eat.

Mar. 01 2012 11:33 AM
Hyperkinetic from Brooklyn

Rather than create a new law that will go unenforced, how about enforcing the existing law that addresses littering? I occasionally eat on the subway out of pure necessity. I'm constantly on the go, and often have to skip a meal. When I do eat on the train, I'm always as discrete as possible, and always take my trash with me. I am equally as disgusted as the rest of you at people who leave a mess and their trash behind. Enforce the littering law and the problem is solved.

Mar. 01 2012 11:32 AM
Glenn from Astoria

There's a whole website devoted to it called train pigs.

Eating on the subway is disgusting!

Mar. 01 2012 11:32 AM
Jane from east village

We had this several years ago. Why did it go away and why is it coming back now?

Mar. 01 2012 11:32 AM
Joseph Shraibman from Brooklyn

Grossest eating story: watching people eat sunflower seeds, and drop the shells all around them not caring who is watching.

Littering is alread illegal, but that didn't stop them. There is no point in banning eating.

Mar. 01 2012 11:32 AM
Turner from Ridgewood

Ban it!

I saw a guy throw his Mcdonalds garbage under the seat a few months ago.

I told him "what do you think this is your personal trash can?"

He then threatened to punch me and called me a "dirty hippie".

Mar. 01 2012 11:32 AM
bernie from bklyn

efects minorities? is he joking? minorities can't wake up 30 min. earlier and have breakfast at home before leaving for the train? that's ridiculous

Mar. 01 2012 11:31 AM


Mar. 01 2012 11:31 AM
Ann from brooklyn

BAN IT! The subways are shared public spaces and should be used respectfully. But people seem to equate the subway with their living room, dining room and sometimes bathroom.

Mar. 01 2012 11:31 AM
Gregory from The Bronx

This is symbolic of the complete breakdown of class (as in taste, not upper or lower). People bring whole meals onto the trains and buses, sit down next to others and chow down and then, as consistent as one would expect from people who are devoid enough of a basic understanding of good manners, proceed to leave on or under the seats, or out the door of the bus or train when it comes to a stop, their crumbs, bags, bottles, and whole chicken carcasses. I witness this EVERY DAY! There is no excuse for this; don't these slobs have a home? I fully support the proposed ban!

Mar. 01 2012 11:31 AM
Zach from UWS

I thought food and drink were already banned, but like jaywalking, this was just one of those things that doesn't get enforced in New York City.

Mar. 01 2012 11:30 AM
Henry from LIC

They can't even enforce the rules they already have on the subway how could they possibly enforce this new rule/prohibition? Over the years I've all too often seen a person eating sunflower seeds only to throw the shells on the floor. This is litter and there are rules/laws against it, but I've never once seen anyone held accountable for doing this. I've also never seen enforcement of numerous other rules that are broken. I understand there is a vermin problem, but personally I'd prefer that people who "sit wide" and people who clip their nails be stopped. Oh, and by sit wide, I don't mean obese people, I mean people who spread their legs so far apart they take up multiple seats.

Mar. 01 2012 11:29 AM
RBC from NYC

I think this problem goes back to the lack of etiquette & respect that people have for one another & property. Its lazy when people don't throw away their garbage on the subway; in fact its disgusting when people spit in the subway - that so grosses me out!!!!

Snacking should be allowed, but a spaghetti meal on the train is just ridiculous.

Mar. 01 2012 11:28 AM


D.C. does and the subway is actually kinda clean...

It's disgusting... or rather, most of the folks who do it are, often leaving their refuse under the subway seat...

KFC® chicken bones tossed under the seat of the subway...???



Mar. 01 2012 11:26 AM

This is just the kind of govt intrusion that "smaller government" a-holes will get behind. Ya can't pass a law banning such things, but I'd be for a ad campaign that says Stop Eating. Next, how about one that says Stop blocking the Doors, and stop leaning on the pole.

Mar. 01 2012 11:25 AM
Sue from Brooklyn

Yes, ban it! In additon to the trash/rat problem, there's the factor of what is eaten. I have had to watch people eat and smell foods that are inappropriate to anyplace but a restaurant - fish, sushi, roasted/fried chicken, bar-b-qued meat,etc.

Mar. 01 2012 11:25 AM
tmra from NYC

I thought that guy during the donation promo was creepy too! Lovingly tucking him in at night- how weird! I'm so glad you admitted that Brian. I love WNYC because they are honest!

Mar. 01 2012 11:24 AM

I say ban it. I think liquids are OK and it never bothers me if someone is eating a granola bar or something, but when the guy next to me is gobbling down chinese food out of a styrofoam container, I feel ill. A crowded subway is not the time or place to eat your dinner. It spills on the trains and the trash attracts more rats.

Mar. 01 2012 11:24 AM
Douglas Einar from Brooklyn

Would this include eating on the platform? I'll scarf a bagel while waiting for a train but never eat once on board. Strong smelling food on the subway can be pretty nauseating.

Mar. 01 2012 11:23 AM
lcruz from brooklyn

ban it! there are no garbage cans on the subways/trains nor should there be any, we can expect folks to take their food garbage with them.

Mar. 01 2012 11:17 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Would this ban also include liquids like covered coffee containers? I'm all for the ban if it does not include that. I want my cup of joe as I'm racing off to work! Yet, I find it disgusting when someone is eating their smelly food and the odor wafts through the car and they inevitably leave half of it under the seat upon exiting the car. It truly is disgusting.

Mar. 01 2012 11:11 AM
Elizabeth from Harlem, NYC

The biggest problem with eating on public transit is that most people don't seem to understand how to be respectful about it. If the food is non-smelly and not making a mess (an energy bar, or even a plain bagel), and you clean up after yourself, it's not a problem for anyone. Unfortunately the majority of people you see eating on the subway are very disrespectful, they eat smelly, messy food, and leave their garbage behind.
I take coffee in a thermos cup, and sometimes a Luna bar, on my way to work. I never leave wrappers or spill. But I would give that up in order to avoid a situation like the one I encountered the other day: someone had left a full cup of coffee on the floor, and it tipped over, leaking as it rolled all over the car, forcing people to leave the car or pick their feet up to avoid the mess. A whole car of people with feet hovering four inches above the ground! And some poor MTA worker later had to mop up the whole car...

Ban food on the subway. If you've ever been to Germany, you understand how ridiculous this idea of "ignoring" the "tradition" of public eating is. They banned food on the metro, and it's clean and smell-free; public eating takes places in appropriate venues, like biergarten... We can maintain our "tradition of public eating" in parks and on the street, not in confined spaces underground.

Mar. 01 2012 11:10 AM

Here's one you gotta love — person next to you is munching on something making lots of crumbs. At some point he brushes the crumbs off his lap _onto you_. This has happened to me several times. Then there are all the people who 'forget' the wrappers, bags, bottles they put on the floor underneath their seats. Ban it.

Mar. 01 2012 10:38 AM

ban it!
people are pigs!

Mar. 01 2012 10:08 AM

Does banning smut in Times Square ignore the great NYC tradition of sleaze everywhere? Maybe I should go overseas and promote peep shows in major world cities? I mean if we're gonna do the whole cultural relativism thing lets go all the way.

Mar. 01 2012 09:41 AM
bernie from bklyn

"the great global traditions of public eating"
this is why academics are ridiculed's the nyc version of a global tradition of public eating- some person gets on the subway, sits right next to you, opens up a styrofoam container filled w/ smelly general tsaos chicken, shovels it into their mouth with fried rice flying everywhere, eats 85% of it, dumps the rest of the open container w/ the remaining "food" and grease on the floor below their seat, all while their ipod is blasting the worst music in the world loudly from their earbuds and simultaneously playing a video game on their phone w/ volume turned up to the max so the entire car can hear it, be bothered by it and smell their leftover food rotting on the floor of "our" subway. there's your "great global tradition of public eating". go write a book about that.

Mar. 01 2012 09:37 AM

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