New York State Sen. Bill Perkins wants to put an end to eating on New York City’s subway system. “And I don’t know, if I didn’t have my iced coffee in the morning, what I would do.”Perkins, who represents a district in Harlem, is proposing the ban as a means to fight rats and litter in the subway system. However, some riders are taking issue with the proposal, claiming that the punishment is disproportional to the crime. They may have a point: Under the proposed ban, subway riders caught eating food of any kind could be fined of up to $250.
The main issue is that many New York City residents use the subway as a place to eat when they simply don’t have time to eat anywhere else, especially in the morning. Many NYC residents eat on the run because they feel that they have to. For instance, when subway rider Bernadette Joseph heard about the proposed fine, she told National Public Radio that she refers to her hour-long commute to work as “Breakfast time.” School teacher Monique Abrams told NPR that, “Every morning, bagel, butter, iced coffee to get me going in the morning to get up to the Bronx and deal with these kids,” Abrams says.
They aren’t the only New York City residents who oppose the proposed law. Joseph J. Lhota, the newly appointed chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is unequivocally against the bill, even though it would in all likelihood help New York City’s rat problem. Lhota told the New York Times that, “I do not support the bill. It severely hurts and impacts minority communities. I don’t want to deny the kid the only time that day he’s going to get food.”
Nonetheless, some New York City residents do support the eating ban. A recent survey found that NYC residents see rats in 1 out of every 10 subway platforms. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call that an infestation. Plus, litter on subway tracks has been known to create subway fires, one of the main causes of personal injuries on the subway.