The MBTA Wants You To Be Nice

If you’re a ceiling gazer when you ride the T (and really, what’s the alternative?), you’ve probably noticed mock headlines lauding riders for courteous behavior (“Man gives up seat for pregnant woman!” “Woman covers mouth while sneezing!“). Or, maybe you thought someone slipped a Paxil to the Herald‘s headline-writers.

Starting Tuesday night, the MBTA has been papering the T with 1,500 of these ads, the brainchild of Jonathan Davis, general manager of the T. As a daily T commuter for the past five years (he takes the express bus or orange line), Davis was struck by the accumulation of random acts of insensitivity and viciousness he sees pretty much all the time, and it was time to hit the reset button.

“It’s part of what I see every day,” he said. “But also it’s important to periodically remind customers to be respectful of others who ride the system.”

And a few months later, there you go. That’s why he’s the boss. But while the T’s at it, I think they could do riders a great service by adding these to the campaign:

Don’t make eye contact with crazy people
That liquid is almost definitely pee
Matted gum still sticks to your pants

As for Davis, he’s trying to lead by example. He couldn’t recall the last time he gave up his seat, but said he certainly would do it. Then again, when he rides the orange line, he almost always stands.

“It’s partly preference,” he said, “but I also want to let our customers be able to have a seat.”