With the BART strike appearing likely tonight, I feel like I need to lighten things up by addressing an awkward situation we encounter daily. For some of us, we flat out prefer to stand on BART to avoid contact with the old cloth seats. I usually stand, but on occasions especially at the end of the day, when one of the refurbished trains approach, I don't mind taking a rest on one of the plastic seats.
There is an unsaid rule that women should sit over men. I don't really think that should be the case but I feel that a lot of men do feel pressured to allow female passengers to take an open seat even if it's right next to them. Poor tired men who actually want to sit. Just do it...it's fine, chivalry is not necessary (or expected) on BART IMHO.
Based on what I've seen in more than 11 years of taking BART, this is the pecking order when it comes to seats:
1) Handicapped-- yep, no argument there, they should always have a seat, anywhere. Or if they have a cast and crutches, they should sit.
2) Obese passengers - I don't mean overweight, I mean so large that they need two seats. I think to ease their pain and embarrassment, please just get up for them quietly and let them sit down!
3) Elderly-- this is a tricky one. Some who look very old are insulted when you offer them one, and others who have barely 20 gray hairs boot you out of your seat on the "elderly" badge. If they have a cane, they should sit, no matter where the seat.
4) People with babies or kids -- The kids should sit. It's pretty intimidating to be standing in such a turbulent and crowded environment. If parents are carrying babies, they should sit too. It's dangerous to stand and balance with your baby!
5) Pregnant women -- If someone appears to be in their 3rd trimester, I always give them my seat. But then, it's tricky too...sometimes, someone APPEARS pregnant but are not! Or sometimes, someone barely in their 2nd trimester says, I'm pregnant, and forces out another passenger. Pregnant women can stand, I've been there. Unless you are about to pop, but if that's the case, you shouldn't even be on BART!
6) Overweight passengers-- These are just larger passengers, not obese. I would let them sit because it's not comfortable for them to stand, and they are taking up probably too much standing room.
7) Any other females by proximity to open seat
Thoughts? I've written about this in the past but I think my order has changed. Obese passengers have moved up on my list.