This will result in a consensus
January 3, 2020 5:39 AM   Subscribe

 
#4 please. I hate the sideways seats (1-3) because it hurts the back to be forcibly jerked left and right when stopping and starting. And #5 you are gonna get walked into.
posted by Grither at 5:55 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Oh, but generally I'm not going far enough on the subway to warrant taking a seat at all, as I usually only take it home from work if it is actively raining. Citibike is my transportation of choice, even in the dead of winter.
posted by Grither at 5:56 AM on January 3


Link to original tweet, with image for those who can't/won't access the New York Times.

Obviously, the answer is 1.
posted by damayanti at 6:04 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


austerity means that the signals are too outdated for there to be short enough headways for there to be available seats.
posted by entropone at 6:06 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Seconding #4 and adding the reason that you can sometimes look out the window as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


#4, so you can avoid looking at anyone.
posted by cazoo at 6:21 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


4 for long trips, 1 for short trips.
posted by Automocar at 6:23 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


I would say 4 too, for the coziness and the view, but apparently those seats are no good for tall people on the MTA so I'd go with 1, or maybe 5 but there you'd potentially have to get up to let somebody into or out of 4.
posted by Flashman at 6:32 AM on January 3


standing is the correct answer.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:32 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


It's a trick question. One never takes the D train.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:37 AM on January 3


I do not live in New York, however I take the subway. The best subway seat is not shown. The best subway seat is on the other side of the train (assuming this pic is taken facing toward the back of the train). It is the forward-facing seat closest to the window that is on the right (when facing forward). The seat corresponding to seat 4 in the picture, but on the other side of the train.

I can see why everyone was confused given that the best seat is not shown.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:41 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


4, because the slight reduction in legroom is a worthwhile trade for being able to sit more or less undisturbed for the length of your trip. Plus you get to see out the window.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:42 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Surely "1" is the accessibility seat that you have to give up for those less able to stand.

Also, why are they all hard plastic? Why not nice upholstery and moquette?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:43 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


why are they all hard plastic? Why not nice upholstery and moquette?

As a resident of Chicago during the years where we had fabric-covered seats that we hated, let me take this one...

It's because it's nicer to find out a seat has been drenched in coffee, beer, urine, etc. by looking at it than by sitting and realizing your rear end is now soaked.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:45 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


I don't care as long as you sit somewhere. Bus and subway riders here will stand even when there are seats making it impossible to get off the damn bus when it's your stop.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Oh, *this* is where all those seat memes are coming from! Excellent, this makes them a lot easier to understand.
posted by Mogur at 6:49 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


It's because it's nicer to find out a seat has been drenched in coffee, beer, urine, etc. by looking at it than by sitting and realizing your rear end is now soaked.

We have fabric seats in Toronto. They're darker when they're wet. You can tell. Also, we don't pee on the bus or subway.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:50 AM on January 3 [10 favorites]


It really depends on how crowded the train is. 4 is my preferred pic when the train isn't crowded, so I can ride facing the direction the train is going, as is my preference. 5, 1, and 3 are fallbacks. 2 is only if there's no other option for a seat.
posted by SansPoint at 6:52 AM on January 3


5 sitting sideways is the best - easy to get in and out of, if you're knitting, no one complains.
posted by jb at 6:54 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


If only I had a penguin... I sat in pee on the Bloor line not long after I moved here. I am much more diligent about looking now and only sit for long rides.
posted by wellred at 6:55 AM on January 3


#1 seems good until the person leaning on the barrier unwittingly (or wittingly) positions their backpack on your face. Then right before the doors close they snatch your phone and leave the train. Exeunt.

#2 is reserved for people who don't care about anything.

#3 is appropriate if you're a social type. You can start a conversation with the maximum number of people. Real New Yorkers. They will surely appreciate this act of goodwill.

#4 is great if there's nobody around you, and you have short legs. You can gaze at your own reflection, and ponder the series of accidents and decisions that led you to this awful place, at this hour.

#5 is the best. Nobody will snatch your stuff, and you have a lot of room. Only downside is that you occasionally have to move your legs to let people through the aisle. Until it's "showtime", at which point you will nervously await either a concussion or aggressive panhandling, or both.
posted by swift at 6:56 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


#1 on the side from which you plan to exit, of course.
posted by nicwolff at 7:09 AM on January 3


I had a coworker get his phone snatched and he was in the Chicago equivalent of seat #4 - being in the corner like that (people were in all the other seats as well) made it impossible for him to jump up and grab the guy's hand or chase him. So be careful with your phone in that seat too, or really anywhere on public transit.

Another cautionary tale: the plastic seats are definitely better, but I've gotten the wet butt from a dry-looking seat because there's a little drainage hole in the center of the seat and sometimes there's liquid UNDER the seat and all it takes is the flex of your weight in the seat for that liquid to rise back up the drainage hole. Beware, transit riders, beware.
posted by misskaz at 7:16 AM on January 3


2 if the car is empty, 1 if it's full.

No subways where I live, but I use transit every day.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:22 AM on January 3


It’s optimal that everyone disagrees about this because it means five people can all sit in their favorite seats at the same time!

Optimal as long as they all shut up about it and don’t spend the whole train ride arguing, that is.
posted by aubilenon at 7:22 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


5, forward-facing. Legroom and easy to hop up and make your stop. If someone wants to get into/out of number 4 you just have to pivot.

But at the end of a long day I would just be grateful if there were any seats. There usually weren't.
posted by emjaybee at 7:25 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


In the Bloor line trains in Toronto, there is a pole between 2 and 3. I am very fat, so my options are to hang off the edge of five or take both one and two. I can't fit between the pole and the edge of the seat for three and my knees don't fit the gap for five.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:38 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


2 if the car is empty, 1 if it's full.

If the car is empty, at least here in New York, then the correct answer is: "whatever seat is furthest from the reason the car is empty".
posted by The Bellman at 7:39 AM on January 3 [18 favorites]


Everyone answering #4 is either short or has never ridden the NYC subway. There's about six inches of space between the front of #4 and the side of #3, which means that sitting properly in #4 is physically painful for anyone over about 5'7", and almost a physical impossibility for anyone over about 6'.
posted by firechicago at 8:06 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


4, no question. The problem with 1 is that every single time I sit there, someone comes and leans on the railing, even if the train is close to empty. Must be my animal magnetism or something, but it's really fucking annoying.

I'm not short (unless you consider 5'6" short for a woman) and um yeah, I've ridden the subway once or twice.
posted by holborne at 8:10 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


This is what the seats look like in our subway look like; I usually try to sit in one of the singles.
posted by octothorpe at 8:11 AM on January 3


Just to say, fuck those giant cloth BART seats. The 700 series DC metro seats are probably the best solution I've seen that doesn't involve just two long plastic benches.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:21 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


My order was 1 5 4 3 2, assuming it's a normal subway ride, and 4 5 1 3 2 if it's a long ride.

Can we all at least agree that 2 is the worst?
posted by Mchelly at 8:23 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Let's be honest, they all suck. Make the choice of available seat that best suits your particular concerns and constraints while being considerate of others and do what public transit is there for your to do: Move on.

It's not your living room.
posted by srboisvert at 8:30 AM on January 3


Everyone answering #4 is either short...

When you take everyone into account, the median height of a subway rider is well below 5'7", so the majority of the population has no problem sitting in #4. I'm taller than that and if I don't slouch my knees can just barely fit.

The real problem with #4 and #5 comes in wintertime when it's a battle for air rights above the seatbacks -- that's when the hoods of your puffer coat and my puffer coat are constantly in contact and any motion of either of our heads will annoy the other person.
posted by theory at 8:30 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm a freak, but if the train is really empty I'll always choose 3.
posted by little onion at 8:32 AM on January 3


For me - this relates primarily to the G train and is variable by where I am going (the 7 transfer or my hairstylist in Greenpoint or if I'm going south of the 'burg) and how crowded the train is. Empty/southbound G - the answer is 4,1,3/5 lastly 2. And if going to LIC or entering a semi-crowded train - 1,3,5,4 and as always lastly 2.

However, the only time I have been really offensively flashed on the train was in the 4 seat on this exact ride - Hoyt Schermerhorn to home and now I'm reliving that guy's dong again. Ugh.
posted by rdnnyc at 8:38 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I like 4 the best because it's the nicest place for a nap. You have something to rest your head against.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 8:42 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Following up on dirtyoldtown, bedbugs.
posted by WCityMike at 9:14 AM on January 3


4 is best, especially if you're going more than a few stops. Double especially if you're doing anything other than sitting (phone, laptop, switch, book, newspaper, knitting, etc.)

5 and 1 are next. 1 has the advantage of the barrier between people standing, and 5 the advantage of avoiding contact with fellow seated passengers.

3 is next. A sad compromise, but an acceptable one.

2 is generally worse than standing.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:18 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm at a secondary terminus, so when I get on the train there's only ever a few people on it. And I am short, so it's #4 for me! If I can't get #4, I'll sit at #3 if possible.
posted by droplet at 9:35 AM on January 3


When you take everyone into account, the median height of a subway rider is well below 5'7", so the majority of the population has no problem sitting in #4. I'm taller than that and if I don't slouch my knees can just barely fit.

I guess it depends on what you mean by "well below" but I don't think this is true. According to the CDC, the average (both mean and median, since they're normally distributed) American adult man is 5'9" and the average American adult woman is 5'3.5", which implies that if the adult ridership has the same height distribution as the US population and an equal gender split, then we'd expect a mean height of just over 5'6". (I can't be bothered to figure out the math of adding two normal distributions together to figure out the median, but it shouldn't be too far off from that). Of course when you account for children the number is lower, but we're still probably talking about at least a third of the ridership that can't sit in that seat comfortably, and maybe 7% of the ridership who literally can't sit in that seat at all.
posted by firechicago at 9:47 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Anyone who likes #4 is a lizard face monster and should be given their own, different island. Probably Staten. I say this knowing my husband is a 4. The best seat is any seat on a train with a normal gd bench (no weird molded IRT bench, no nightmare r46s). Please elect me mayor today.
posted by dame at 9:54 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


ALSO the r46s lock the doors between cars, which means you can't escape when necessary, which is how you got that train stuck in the summer with no a/c that ended up with people basically clawing their way out when they were finally released.
posted by dame at 9:58 AM on January 3


Your Answer Is Obviously Wrong
Sooo much Internet, so blame.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Seat Preference From Best To Worst (Assuming that All Other Seats Will Also Be Taken)

1
5
3
2
4

Where I Will Choose To Sit If The Car is Mostly Empty And Likely To Stay That Way

2
5
1
3
4
posted by 23skidoo at 10:40 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


why are they all hard plastic? Why not nice upholstery and moquette?

I, too, love sitting on piss-soaked carpet swatches
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:07 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Everyone answering #4 is either short or has never ridden the NYC subway. There's about six inches of space between the front of #4 and the side of #3, which means that sitting properly in #4 is physically painful for anyone over about 5'7", and almost a physical impossibility for anyone over about 6'.
posted by firechicago

Counterpoint, I am 6 feet tall and have ridden the subway more times than I can count, and I choose #4. It's called sitting up straight, people! Quit your slouching and suddenly you'll be plenty comfortable in the best seat in town! (Ok fine, you also have to turn slightly sideways, but that only helps you gaze out the window more!)
posted by Grither at 11:22 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Obviously you touch the seat before you sit on it to check it’s dry, have you guys no common sense?

And it’s 4, because then when the person in 5 gets up you can sit with your back to the wall and legs spread over both seats like a chaise longue. The only exception is when travelling with a toddler, when you sit in 5 and block them into 4 with your legs so they can’t get down and lie in the aisle. The TTC seats with a partition between 4/5 and 3 are the best for this, as they can’t climb onto 3 and run about on 1-3 either.
posted by tinkletown at 11:30 AM on January 3


I'm in favor of #4 and am 6'1". But then, I also keep my driver's seat close to the wheel. Also, I do not share the current fascination with rending of hair over footroom in coach airplane seats. I attribute this to sitting upright, like a grown ass adult, rather than stretching my legs out all akimbo, as though trying to mark territory based upon the length of my inseam.

(While I am 100% serious about my own predilections, I am mostly kidding about the part where it sounds like I'm trying to start some shit. One of the longest, most cutthroat arguments I've ever had on MeFi was about airplane legroom. I have come to acknowledge I sit weirdly rigidly upright and my personal space requirements are accordingly smaller.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:54 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


1,3,5,2,4 (in descending order of goodness). 1, 3, and 5 are edge seats and provide the least physical contact and social interaction. I always sit side-saddle on 5, with my feet in the aisle, and am surprised more people don’t do that. 2 is a middle seat, so no thank you. And 4 is just no no no no no.
posted by panama joe at 12:18 PM on January 3


> Obviously you touch the seat before you sit on it to check it’s dry

You touch it with your human hands? Then what?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:09 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Trick question. Avoid sitting on the subway.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:35 PM on January 3


On Atlanta's MARTA subway, most of the seats face forward or backward (we have the same cars as the DC Metro), and only a few by each door are sideways, all of which are reserved for the disabled. In that situation, I love 4, because few people ever choose 5 over any of the other aisle seats, and so I usually get a row to myself until the train is very full, at which point I am still in my safe 4 cocoon.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:06 PM on January 3


4, then 5, then I'd rather stand. At least for the few more years my "subway" shares its car style with NYC. Maybe someday I'll actually get to ride on the fancy new rolling stock and no longer waste brain space on the best strategy for dealing with jam packed 40 year old carriages that were designed for the population of WWII-era New York, just with air conditioning tacked on in recognition that they'd be running above a swamp.

Appearance-wise, I much prefer the old stainless steel trains, but there is no question that people, their characteristics, and the things they bring on trains have changed in the 60-70 years since the currently used design was conceived, so it will be nice to have train cars that reflect that reality.
posted by wierdo at 5:33 PM on January 3


The only thing worse than 1, 2, or 3 are a reverse facing 4 or 5. The only thing worse than those is a reverse facing seat on an airplane. To me, all reverse seating is a kind of motion sickness factory, and I'm not even prone to motion sickness!
posted by wierdo at 5:43 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


95% of my subway time is on the numbered lines, so I almost never deal with this train configuration. I automatically walk into the center of the car and will only sit if I don't think I'm going to be crowded by manspreaders or little old ladies who take up a lot more space than they would appear to.

well, number one cause duh
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:00 PM on January 3


Also, why are they all hard plastic? Why not nice upholstery and moquette?

I . . . are you from some magical clean place where there are no urine-soaked itinerants, teenagers, tourists, or slobs on the train? In addition to the aforementioned crawly pests, I have seen everything from half a thing of fry sauce to an actual big healthy wet shit on a subway seat before.

Anything that can't easily be hosed off and bleached has no place on public transit, at least not in the US.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:30 PM on January 3


I like 4.

My wife refuses to sit in 4, because at some point a disturbed person sat down in 5 and refused to let her out. Luckily, he wasn't aggressive, just clearly not experiencing the same train ride as everyone else.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:11 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


we're still probably talking about at least a third of the ridership that can't sit in that seat comfortably

Which does in fact mean the majority can! Unthinkingly equating “people” and “men” will get you every time.

4 is your best hope for all but very short trips.
posted by praemunire at 1:43 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I . . . are you from some magical clean place where there are no urine-soaked itinerants, teenagers, tourists, or slobs on the train? In addition to the aforementioned crawly pests, I have seen everything from half a thing of fry sauce to an actual big healthy wet shit on a subway seat before.

I guess I must? I've only had a problem with the upholstered seats once on twice in thirty years of transit use.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Although I just found this from last year where PAT (our transit system) was experimenting with hard plastic seats. I haven't seen them so maybe the test was a failure?
posted by octothorpe at 9:33 AM on January 4


I . . . are you from some magical clean place

The upholstery and moquette issue is actually an interesting policy choice.
(Please excuse the half remembered anecdote...)
It came about in (I think) the late 70's and early 80's when there were big spikes in graffiti and vandalism.
The NY subway took the approach of making everything hard wearing and functional, hence the plastic seats and fairly brutalist design.

London conversely took the broken windows view, with the notion that if stuff looks a bit torn up already then people will be more willing to damage it, but if it's kept nice then it would discourage further vandalism.
So they made the trains a bit nicer. Cleaned them more often, replaced damaged fittings aggressively.

So today even though the 80's vandalism epidemic has mostly abated London still has upholstered seats and New York still has hard plastic.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:43 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Everyone answering #4 is either short or has never ridden the NYC subway. There's about six inches of space between the front of #4 and the side of #3, which means that sitting properly in #4 is physically painful for anyone over about 5'7", and almost a physical impossibility for anyone over about 6'.

I am also not sure what this is about. I am a 5'10" man and a daily rider of a train with this configuration (the R) and I sit in #4 all the time without feeling physical pain.

Indeed, it is my preferred seat -- when facing forward!! -- on long train rides. It makes me feel a little bit like I'm on a "real train" (like an intercity train), especially on parts of the system where you're riding outdoors, like the G between 4 Av-9 St and Carroll St, or the elevated parts of the A in Queens.

For me, the real problem with #4 is that it's hard to sit in with any kind of large bag.
posted by andrewesque at 9:53 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


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