20 October 2011

Brooklyn needs a new Rosa Parks

The B110 bus, which runs between [New York City neighborhoods] Williamsburg and Borough Park, has been run by Private Transportation Corporation since 1973, under a franchise with the city. [...] Even though a private operator runs the bus, it was awarded the route through a public and competitive bidding process.
But women sit in the back while men sit in the front. The only females allowed in the front are very young girls who happen to be traveling with a male caregiver. And not because the rule is merely an unspoken tradition:
Guidelines, posted in the front and the back, said that "when boarding a crowded bus with standing passengers in the front, women should board the back door after paying the driver in the front" and that "when the bus is crowded, passengers should stand in their designated areas."
Because this bus is part of the public transit system (it is run under some kind of franchise arrangement with MTA), this gender segregation is a civil rights problem.[1] Kudos to Mayor Bloomberg for calling the operators out on it:
[T]he mayor said that segregating men and women was "obviously not permitted" on public buses. "Private people: you can have a private bus," he added. "Go rent a bus, and do what you want on it" (NYT via MSNBC).
To paraphrase a departed Philadelphia local who was no hero of mine, this is America. When riding the bus, you can sit wherever you damn well please.

It's a slippery slope. One day it's a community saying that it offends their religion for women and men to sit together on the bus because it's immodest, and the next day it's a community calling little girls "sluts" for going to school and vandalizing the facility.

It's also a constitutional problem for this bus to operate with its MTA-looking number. If your god requires your congregation to gender-segregate itself in public, that's fine. Who am I to challenge what your god has told you? Just don't look to the government for financial help or recourse though the courts to facilitate and enforce that segregation. This informal -- and really, it's not very informal -- gender segregation on quasi-private buses should be nipped in the bud.

[1] Though at least nobody's being denied service or having their fares confiscated because the bus operator doesn't think they conform to the gender sticker on their transit pass.


Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

As long as it'is a privatly held entity and doesn't suck any support from any federal funding, who cares how they handle their private property. When that line is crossed, then I think there needs to be a reassessment on equality.

Glomarization said...

It's not just federal funding, it's any tax-supported funding: federal, state, municipal. The bus route is at best a public-private partnership, awarded through an open, public competitive bidding process. There are state actors here, and when there is a state actor, the service has to be run constitutionally. It is seriously constitutionally problematic for there to be religious rules about who sits where on the bus.

Tyler said...

Yes we do i cant wait too see the future.