By David Pendered
Just as MARTA has its Ride With Respect code of conduct, the Atlanta Streetcar could soon have its own conduct code that outlaws everything from evading a fare, to spitting, to vaping an electronic cigarette.
Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin introduced legislation that begins with a prohibition against fare evasion. The penalty for each infraction would be $100.
The legislation then goes on to ban an array of behaviors and activities that could have a negative impact on a passenger’s experience aboard a streetcar or stop platform. Each penalty would be $100.
Many of the activities are the sorts of things that could make one wonder why there even needs to be a law to prohibit them. On the other hand, some are the sorts of things that could make one exclaim, there ought to be a law.
This isn’t Martin’s first foray into the arena of regulating public behavior. In 2007, Martin was the first elected official in the region to propose a ban on droopy pants.
The fad of letting pants droop well below the hips started with rappers spread through music videos. Performers appeared to adopt the style from prison garb, where uniform pants drooped because belts were banned to prevent their use as a weapon or a tool for suicide. Martin said he and others were tired of seeing young people drooping their pants and displaying their boxers, thongs, or whatever undergarment.
For Atlanta’s streetcars and stop platforms, Martin proposed a litany of offenses based on public behavior. The proposed legislation was approved on substitute Monday by the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which Martin chairs. The committee approved the proposal without comment.
The paper is scheduled for a vote by the council at its meeting Nov. 16. Here are some activities that were banned in the original legislation:
- “Spit, defecate, or urinate;
- “Discard litter, except into receptacles designated for that purpose;
- “Smoke tobacco in any form, included but not limited to in the form of electronic cigarettes, personal vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems;
- “Consume food or beverage or possess any open food or beverage container, provided that this paragraph shall not apply to resealable beverages in resealable plastic containers, to an operator of a city streetcar at an authorized layover point, or to a person providing food or beverage to any child under age 5; provided, further, that nothing in this subsection shall apply to a city streetcar stop platform’
- “Play any radio, cassette, cartridge, tape player, digital music player, or similar device, unless such device is connected to an earphone that limits the sound to the hearing of an individual user;
“Carry or possess any explosives, acids, other dangerous articles, or live animals, except for the following:
- A guide dog or service dog, provided that such guide dog or service dog is accompanied by a physically disabled person, blind person, person with
visual disabilities, deaf person, or a person who is responsible for training
a guide dog or service dog; or
- Small pets confined to rigid pet carriers with locks or latches;
- “Obstruct, hinder, interfere with, or otherwise disrupt or disturb the operation, operator, or passengers of the city streetcar;
- “Board any city streetcar vehicle through the rear exit door, unless so directed by an employee or agent of the city streetcar;
- “Remain onboard a city streetcar vehicle after such vehicle has completed its scheduled route and passengers have been advised to exit the vehicle or remain aboard the city streetcar vehicle after having been warned and after such vehicle has entered a garage or other restricted area not open to the public;
“Enter, exit or pass through any emergency door of the city streetcar vehicle in the absence of a bona fide emergency;
- “Enter the operator’s cab or driver’s seat of a city streetcar vehicle in absence of a bona fide emergency;
- “Monetarily solicit or sell goods or services for a fee without the grant of a concession by the City of Atlanta;
- “Deface, damage, displace, remove or destroy any advertisement, security sign, or notice on or in any city streetcar vehicle or city streetcar stop platform.”
MARTA adopted its Ride with Respect program in 2013. It appears to have served as a model for the provisions Martin proposed in his legislation. The codes share similarities, right down to the ban on vaping – which huffingtonpost.com identified as a trend in July 2014.
MARTA established a policy that states:
- “It is the mission of MARTA, through the efforts of dedicated, well-trained employees, to provide a safe and secure environment for customers and employees of MARTA. MARTA has established a Customer Code of Conduct to promote the safety and comfort of its riders, to facilitate the proper use of transit facilities and services, to protect transit facilities and employees, to assure the payment of fares, and to ensure that MARTA vehicles and facilities are safe and welcoming and provide equitable access for MARTA customers.”