That sound you hear is not the sound of a billion cicadas, but the sound of a thousand photobloggers weeping: The MTA is thinking about banning photography on subways and buses, for security reasons. The MTA says that it's for the safety of passengers and employing, as they worry about terrorists taking pictures of subway train cars and tunnels, and make clear that even cellphone cameras would be found illegal. The Times reports that this will be the first new rule of conduct in ten years, joining, "graffiti, littering, spitting, smoking, panhandling, loud radio playing, drinking alcoholic beverages and going onto subway tracks or into tunnels or other unauthorized areas." Just looking at this list makes Gothamist realize that the rules are rarely enforced. But the old photography ban, which had been in effect until 10 years ago, was dropped when the incident of a woman being fined for taking a picture in the subway got a lot of press attention. Of course, the Straphangers and civil liberties groups are challenging the MTA's proposal, though the MTA says that members of the press and people who get written permission will be allowed to photograph.
Gothamist was talking to Mike from Satan's Laundromat about the matter. He says the police think subway photography is illegal anyway, and Gothamist thinks this is confirmation that the MTA view hipsters, gadget geeks, photobloggers, and tourists as city security threats. At least of Laura Holder's oeuvre is in danger! One critic huffs that if photography is banned, then drawing might be next. Ack - then no cool drawings like these from Danny Gregory.
Some other bans the MTA is thinking about: (1) Walking between subway cars; (2) Placing a foot on a subway seat, bus seat or a platform bench; (3) Wearing skates, standing on a skateboard or riding a scooter. Walking between subway cars not allowed? How else are people going to get away from the smelly homeless (or not!) man in the car? That's always the worst, thinking there's a fairly empty car to sit in for a long subway journey, but then you figure out why it's empty... The MTA is also looking to crack down on people with unlimited Metrocards who jump turnstiles when their cards aren't read, claiming that they did, technically, pay their fare.
As there is a period of 45 days of public comment before the rule changes are voted on by the MTA board, Gothamist says, "LET THE COMMENTING BEGIN!" If there's no photography, then we wouldn't have great pictures like these of the nostalgia train ride from Tien Mao or most of the fabulous NYC Subway page!
Related: NJ Transit is looking to ban photography on their trains as well [via Mike]