Follow the rules or get off the train

Inside of subway car. Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

Door blockers. Toe-nail clippers. Door holders. Don’t ruin our morning commute.

Inside of subway car.
Inside of subway car. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

What happens when your train stops at 59th Street and you’re propped up against the door?

Do you:

a) Push back hard against those exiting, scrambling to grab a vacated seat?

b) Step out of the train and let passengers off?

c) Stand your ground, block the entrance and scowl at those desperately trying to get by before the doors close?

t’s just common sense
The husky nitwit on the A train that pulled into the station chose “c,” and glared at me when I banged into his shoulder and squeezed past him. Was he just nasty, or truly ignorant of basic subway rules?

That’s the moment I realized that riders should have to pass a written test to get a license to ride the subway.

That’s right, subway licenses.

If you don’t know or care about the basic rules and courtesies that protect us all, we don’t want you on our trains. Door blockers and holders, pole leaners and seat hoggers make the commute hell for all of us, not to mention gropers, screaming subway preachers and showtime acrobats.

If you can’t follow the rules, get off my train.


Make the subway better for everyone
I know you’re just the passenger, but it’s not like air travel, where all you have to do is fasten your seat belt, down a Jack Daniels drink and pass out. We all have some responsibility down in the tunnels, and requiring a license will ensure a smoother, calmer ride.

Here’s how it will go: After studying the rules and passing your exam, you will proudly own a subway rider’s license. When you commit a violation, points will be deducted. If you accumulate enough points, your license will be taken away.

But how will these slackers get to work? Bike? Walk? Who cares? They should have thought of that before removing their shoes and clipping their toenails on the subway.

Meanwhile, good citizens who keep a spotless record will be eligible for a reduced fare. Yep, just as car insurance companies do it. Don’t flout the rules, get a discount. Keep acting like a jerk? You’ve reached your last stop!

Subway licenses, an idea whose time has come.

I fantasize about making a citizen’s arrest of some slob tossing pistachio nut shells at my feet.

License, please!

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at This is part of an occasional series of guest amExpress columns. This is amExpress, the conversation starter for New Yorkers. Subscribe at

Mike Vogel