Transportation Nation

To Give or Not To Give to Subway Panhandlers, That Is the Question

Thursday, September 20, 2012

(Photo by Cindy Rodriguez)

New Yorkers are confronted with all manner of subway solicitations, from ad campaigns (like Dr. Zizmor's decades-long rainbow-fueled quest for perfect skin) to world-class musicians. But it's the daily decision to spare some change or ignore the pleas that presents the biggest ethical challenge.

WNYC's Cindy Rodriguez took to the trains to find out how many New Yorkers deal with this ethical puzzle.

Several social service providers say whether to give to panhandlers is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong.  Joel Berg, who runs the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said it’s probably the question he gets asked the most.

“I would say definitely if it’s a supposed organization asking for money, that is illegal and that is almost always a scam,” Berg said. “But individual people asking for money, it’s really up to your conscience in each situation.”

The MTA said it frequently receives complaints about panhandling from customers. And while times are trying, the MTA notes there are other ways to help. “Poverty and hunger are vexing, stubborn problems and we urge our customers to give generously to their favorite and most trusted social service charity,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a written statement.

Follow Rodriguez on a few rides to see what the other side of the tin can is like for those who beg for a living. One man she meets earns $100 in two hours--then stops so as not to wear out his welcome. He says he begs only when his disability runs out. Another panhandler reports earning just $60 in a day and living off that.

There's a boisterous set of comments at the WNYC website already, so head on over there and listen to the radio story -- then join the conversation.

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To Give or Not to Give, That's the Question Facing Straphangers

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hundreds of panhandlers and peddlers ride the NYC subways singing, performing or describing the circumstances that have all brought them to the same place: a subway car asking strangers for money or food. The MTA has a strict policy against panhandling that is regularly flouted; ultimately the decision to give — or not to give — is a personal one.

Comments [24]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Carmageddon Ends Early, Cuomo Mum On Taxi Bill, And How Las Vegas Transit Compares to Other Cities

Monday, July 18, 2011

One Angelenos' Carmageddon is another's bike rapture (Photo: (cc) Flickr user Waltarrrrr)


Los Angeles's weekend-long freeway closing finished early -- and is already being mourned by some Angelenos. "I wish they would do it every weekend,"said one. (Los Angeles Times)

DC Metro's escalators don't work well in the rain. And by "well" we mean "at all." (WAMU)

How Las Vegas's transit options compare to other similar cities. (Las Vegas Sun)

Panhandling arrests are up in the NYC subway. (New York Daily News)

Less than a year after Atlanta was awarded a $47 million federal grant to carve a 2.6-mile streetcar route through the heart of downtown, the check is now in the mail. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo is not saying whether he'll sign the NYC outer borough taxi legislation. (New York Times)

Airlines are trying to entice customers to spend more money on extras. (Marketplace)

New Mexico is building a spaceport for commercial space flights. (NPR)

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