MTA Rules Commuters are Breaking Every Day

By Alison Fox and Vincent Barone for amNewYork

Photo Credit:Alison Fox

You can’t be too drunk. You can’t carry a cup of water. And you can’t hold the closing doors for that guy who’s running down the stairs.

These are just a few of the more obscure MTA rules that, while somewhat ambiguous and often broken, are rarely enforced. Some are ignored so often people don’t even realize they are breaking the rules. Read the full article here.

Number of subway fines issued in 2015 (and fine amount):

  • Obstruction of seating: 3,066 ($50)

  • Interfering with movement: 168 ($100)

  • Impairment by alcohol or drugs: 8 ($50)

  • Causing annoyance: 26 ($50)

  • Liquid in open container: 16 ($25)

  • Littering, etc.: 619 ($50)

  • Unauthorized commercial activity: 882 ($50)

  • Carrying obstructive object: 1 ($75)

Causing annoyance

No person can "conduct himself or herself in any manner which may cause or tend to cause annoyance, alarm or inconvenience to a reasonable person or create a breach of the peace"; and if you do, you could face a $50 fine for your trouble.

Carrying obstructive objects

You'd be slapped with a $75 fine for carrying any object that "constitutes a hazard to the operation of the Authority, interferes with passenger traffic, or impedes service," according to the Transit Adjudication Bureau. But the rule is fairly vague in its wording, and could seemingly mean carrying anything from a large suitcase on a crowded rush hour train to a bicycle. Only one person was cited for that offense last year.

Seat obstruction

You'd be written a $50 fine if you "lie down or place feet on the seat of a train, bus or platform bench or occupy more than one seat." The rule, however, does not make an exception for a completely empty train.

Carrying liquid in open containers

This rule prohibits riders from carrying "any liquid in an open container," including an open coffee cup, in order to prevent slipping hazards. Anyone who breaks this rule can face a $25 fine.

Interfering with movement

Riders can be fined $100 for interfering with movement (preventing the doors from closing, included), but only 168 people were fined in 2015 for it, according to the MTA. It also includes "activating the emergency brake in a non-emergency or other interference that will delays or accidents."

Unauthorized commercial activity

You will have to pay up $50 if you're caught "advertising" anything for sale. Similarly, riders can't distribute "food, goods, services, or entertainment (including the free distribution of promotional goods or materials)."


You'll be slapped with $50 fine if you "litter, dump garbage, liquids or other matter," including "spitting, or urinating, except in facilities."

Impairment by alcohol or drugs

Passengers who appear to be excessively drunk can be slapped with a $50 fine if their ability to function safely is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Eight people were fined for that in 2015. "I think it could be a public safety issue," said Sunnyside resident Rebecca Devers, 38.

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