Monday, October 19, 2009

Legislating courtesy, the Toronto way

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the policy of New York City Transit to fine those who didn't give up their seat to disabled passengers. Turns out it's not just New York, but Toronto's recently given transit special constables the same powers.

From the Globe & Mail:
The new fine for impoliteness is just one of a number of bylaw changes that went into effect Monday, with riders who prop their feet up on a seat, or those who lay down on a row of seats, now facing potential fines.

The new bylaw concerning priority seating doesn't mean that it's an offence to sit in the area of a bus or subway that's reserved for the disabled; rather, fines can only be issued if a rider acts “in contravention of instructions” from a special constable to remove themselves.
Nothing like this in Ottawa, at least not to my knowledge. But should Ottawa have by-laws like this?

EDIT: Turns out Ottawa's got courtesy by-laws, as well. From the OC Transpo website (H/T to 'anonymous' in the comments):
PRIORITY SEATING

ENTITLEMENT

18. (1) A person with a disability, an expectant mother, a person with a visible need for priority seating, a person with a child in a carriage or stroller, a person with a Priority Seating Card or a person with an Assistant Card is entitled to priority seating on a front bench seat but is not guaranteed a seat.

(2) No person, who is not described in subsection (1), shall fail to surrender a front bench seat to a person entitled to priority seating.

[...]

35. (1) Any person who contravenes any provision of this by-law is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine pursuant to the Provincial Offences Act.

4 comments:

RealGrouchy said...

http://www.octranspo.com/accessible/Assistance/Priority_Seating.htm

"A passenger who refuses to give up a designated seat to a disabled person is subject to a fine"

But you still hear people complain about it (see the letters pages of the Citizen today and a couple days ago), because they want the by-law people to intervene without them having to ask politely for people to move.

Just because someone sitting in one of those seats doesn't *look* old, pregnant, or disabled, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't have a good reason to be sitting there. Similarly, just because you have a condition entitling you to priority seating, it doesn't mean that it's obvious to others. Ask someone for a seat first, don't go calling 9-1-1.

- RG>

Thall said...

I completely agree with you there RG! Courtesy has to work both ways - you can't just expect it. Some people are just oblivious and if you politely asked they would give it to you in a heartbeat.

I do get annoyed by the feet on the seats thing though. I politely confronted someone on the O-train about it the other day and was almost physically assaulted. There is a fine for putting your feet up and it is displayed as such, but I have never seen anything come of it. I wouldn't mind if a few fines were handed out so that I didn't have to be nagging people all the time not to put their muddy feet on the seats that I sit on every day.

Anonymous said...

From City of Ottawa BY-LAW NO. 2007 - 268, the "Transit By-law"

18. (1) A person with a disability, an expectant mother, a person with a visible need for priority seating, a person with a child in a carriage or stroller, a person with a Priority Seating Card or a person with an Assistant Card is entitled to priority seating on a front bench seat but is not guaranteed a seat.

(2) No person, who is not described in subsection (1), shall fail to surrender a front bench seat to a person entitled to priority seating.

...

35. (1) Any person who contravenes any provision of this by-law is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine pursuant to the Provincial Offences Act.

Peter said...

Thanks for that, Anon@2:41.