The Yokohama Metropolitan Subway , it would seem, is Japan’s only railway service which makes all of its seats ‘priority seats’. This is an excellent idea, worthy of praise. Common decency and good manners should, of course, mean that ‘priority seats’ are unnecessary anywhere, but that, sadly, doesn’t seem to be the way of the world. Still, it is a step in the right direction to basically say that should there be an elderly or infirm or pregnant person standing while you, a fit young lad or lass, are enjoying a nice sit-down and checking your mail and pretending not to notice, you should perhaps stop pretending not to notice and offer to change places. It’s what your parents should have taught you.
That several railway operators in the Kansai area abandoned plans to implement similar systems because of resistance from passengers is not so good. What form did such resistance take, I wonder? Were there angry calls from able-bodied young men incensed that a train conductor had dared to suggest standing so that an octogenarian so out-of-breath that he is snoring could rest his feeble bones? Did a high-school student complain his legs were tired after baseball practice and that he needed the rest more than the nine-months pregnant women with another toddler pulling at her hand and saying she’s hungry? Who, it baffles me, would stand up in a meeting and say, ‘What, give up seats to those more needy than us? No. Fuck that!’ and then have other committee members nod and murmur and say ‘Naruhodo. Fuck that!’?
It may not have happened exactly like that, but that’s the basic gist. And more saddening still is that the well-intentioned Yokohama Municipal Subway is now planning to spend four million yen to introduce ‘super priority seats’ because too many people are ignoring the original ordinance. That’s like having a no smoking section in a restaurant and when people are lighting up regardless saying, ‘Well, let’s introduce a really no smoking section! That’ll solve it.’ If the original regulations are being ignored, there is no reason to believe four million yen to basically negate those regulations will have much effect in making the situation better.
The Yokohama Municipal Subway is to be commended for its determination to get its passengers to behave courteously, but it is disheartening that they have to waste more money to try to persuade those passengers that its rules are good ones. And they are good ones. Just ignored by fuckers.