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Should we shame seat hogs?

The Post’s big Metro-section story today is about seat hogs on the Metro – people who take up more than one seat in crowded trains. Seat hogs are naturally a frequent target of rider-on-rider scorn, perhaps second only to the dreaded escalefter.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with people spreading out as long as there are several seats available. You’re only a seat hog if people on the train are being forced to stand for lack of enough seats.

But since we’ve all seen plenty of hogs on crowded trains, what should we do about them? Can we do anything?

The Post article discusses SeatHogs.com, at which frustrated riders post pictures of the most blatant offenders in the hopes that the prospect of being publicly shamed will dissuade potential hogs. Funny, but it seems unlikely to work. The odds of any given hog being shamed are too small.

If I see a seat hog and I want to sit, I’m not generally shy about asking them to move. Occasionally I even ask hogs to move when I’d otherwise be happy to stand, just on principle. No one has ever refused. But I wonder if this tactic doesn’t actually contribute negatively rather than positively. After all, if hogs are trained to think it’s acceptable to do their thing unless someone confronts them, then riders who happen to be too introverted to feel comfortable asking someone to move will be increasingly out of luck.

So if neither shaming hogs nor asking them to move are really ideal solutions, is there one out there?

July 19th, 2010 | Permalink
Tags: metrorail, social, transportation



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