Loungers, luggage-bearers, and other folks who spread out into more than one seat beware: If BART Director Joel Keller has his way, seat hogs might soon face fines of as much as $500.
According to the Chron, Keller has frigging HAD IT with riders on packed trains who take over much-needed seats with their feet, belongings, or other stuff that they should keep to themselves. So he's proposing an ordinance, to be enforced by BART police, making it illegal for BART riders to occupy "more than a single seat when it would prevent others from sitting down."
People with medical conditions or of a size that requires multiple seats would be exempted from Keller's proposed law, which wouldn't be enforced on trains that "have an abundance" of empty seats.
Offenders would be hit with a $100 fine for their first offense, $200 for their second strike, and $500 thereafter. Heck, for those fees, you might as well charter a limo for you and your backpack and spare yourself the indignity of BART in the first place!
Keller, who represents eastern Contra Costa County, says "he was motivated to draw up the ordinance when he boarded a train and found a sleeping young man sprawled out over four seats near the door" and "realized that even if he summoned police, they could do nothing but rouse the seat hoarder and ask him to sit up."
“In the past, when we had plenty of seats, it was not as serious an issue as it is today,” Keller told the Chron.
“But with ridership growing and seats becoming a much more desirable commodity, we have to make sure they’re available and avoid them being taken up with backpacks, luggage or someone using two seats to lie down.”
It was last April that BART admitted that their trains were insanely crowded, and confirmed that they'd stay that way until at least 2017. Since then, BART has tried to manage the problem by removing seats to make more room for standing passengers and announced an effort to encourage off-hour commuting with points for some sort of virtual game.
And now this, Keller's effort to legislate what should be common courtesy. And before you ask, Keller wants you to know that this isn't a law directed at homeless people. He tells the Chron that, yes, “There are homeless people on our trains taking more than one seat, but there are also people with backpacks, with luggage, with other things occupying seats. This is not an effort to target or harass anyone, merely an effort to make seats available.”
“We always expect that, when we ask law enforcement to enforce ordinances, they use good judgment,” Keller says, and if it looks like BART cops are focusing on homeless folks when they enforce it, he'll "seek to have it reconsidered."
Keller will be presenting the proposed ordinance to the full BART Board at their meeting this Thursday. The public is welcome at these meetings, so if you want to show up in support/opposition to this proposal, be at their Board Room at 344 20th Street at 9:00 a.m. Thursday.