Shortly after learning that half of all Americans will be obese by 2030, the Times has decided to investigate the pressing issue of fat Americans on public transportation. It's a real problem, you guys! Just ask Kevin Smith.
New Jersey Transit is adding new trains cars with 2.2-inch wider seats, a move that will change the configuration of the entire train from three seats on one side and two on the other to two on both sides. Amtrak is introducing “designs that will be able to accommodate the larger-sized passengers” next year. The Federal Transit Authority is proposing changing bus testing regulations to "more accurately reflect average passenger weights." Metro-North is attempting to trick fat passengers by making the middle seats look larger with a center seam instead of arm barriers, though they're not actually making the seats bigger. (Not all passengers are pleased with this: “They are just as uncomfortable as before,” said Jim Cameron, chairman of the state-created Connecticut Metro-North Rail Commuter Council. “Anything they did on the M-8’s to give the illusion of more space cannot deny the physics of time and space.”)
“It’s clear that the U.S. population is getting heavier,” said Martin Schroeder, chief engineer for the American Public Transport Association, in what could be the understatement of the century. “We are trying to get our hands on that and figure out what is the best average weight to use.” Or, as Cameron puts it, “Why subject my girth to other people?”