Valley Metro’s new surface-street train system, Light Rail, spent quite a bit of time and design on adding PSAs to all of its stations and trains. 

Yet in the short month I’ve been riding, I’ve seen just about every single one broken. 

“Smoking and eating are prohibited. Beverages must be in an unbreakable, spill-proof container.” I’ve seen handfulls of people eating snacky food and drinking out of unapproved to-go coffee cups. And while I  haven’t actually come across anyone smoking on the train, there’s always those ridiculously addicted few who exhale on the train, and keep a hold on the snubbed cigarette until they can light up once they get off the train. Gross. 

“Please give up priority seats to the elderly and disabled.” It’s disgusting to see this one broken. If I notice someone older, handicapped, or pregnant without a seat, I’ll give up mine. I’m young and healthy- no harm in me standing. (Which I really, really wanted to say to a group of middle aged overly made-up Mary Kay conventionees who didn’t get up for a pregnant mom with a stroller: “No no, I’ll stand. I’m obviously young enough.”) 

“Soliciting is prohibited. Take note all you creepy creepers out there- this includes talking to women who DO NOT want to talk to you. 

“Do not hold reserve spots by placing parcels on seats.” Ok, guilty of this one. Sometimes it’s your only line of defense between you and said creeper who wants to sit next to you.  

BUT, the single most ridiculous case of this being broken happened just yesterday (and probably spurred the writing of this blog): one old man and his bike successfully held up five seats during the rush hour commute from downtown Phoenix to Tempe. Not only did he not have his bike in the main car instead of the bike rack, he had it leaning against three fold-down seats. He himself sat on the edge of a two-seat bench, blocking anyone from sitting next to him (although even if the seat were open, I would have remained standing- upon closer inspection, it was quite clear that he simply wasn’t right in the head). So, five seats, one man + bike, lots of people standing. I mean, seriously? 

(Although, personal confession: partially what annoys me so much about this particular experience is that I did not, or anyone else, tell him that there was in fact a spot on the train for his bike. Maybe he just adidn’t know.)

And my favorite: “Please allow passengers to exit before boarding.” It would be great, borderline fantastic, if this guideline were followed. But instead, every time the doors open to a busy platform there’s a few awkward moments of riders attempting to exit but are blocked by those trying to enter. I see the same thing on elevators every day. It’s comical that the entrants look at the exiters in a bizarre mess of confusion: “Why are they in my way? I’m trying to get on the train!” And it can be frustrating: you stand at the door of the train, waiting to leave, and when the doors open the newbies won’t wait for you to get out of the train. Oi. 

What Light Rail attempted to do with the PSAs was provide basic decency standards for riding the trains. Unfortunately, so many people apparently lack in their own lives even a modest understanding of decency when interacting with other human beings that it doesn’t matter how often the Light Rail makes their intentions known- some people are just too obtuse. 

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