For decades the symbol of America’s global reach and throwaway culture was the McDonald’s golden arches. Today, without a doubt, it’s the yellow and white arrows of the Subway logo. With nearly 35,000 locations in 98 countries, Subway is now the most popular fast-food restaurant in the world. At the end of this year, the chain hopes to have 100 stores in Brooklyn alone, and it’s in the midst of testing a new “upscale” concept restaurant called Subway Café, which, in addition to sandwiches measured in inches, will serve coffee.
In a word, Subway is omnipresent. I probably eat there about once a month. So I know first-hand that it is terrible, and it needs to be stopped.
The NY Transit Museum Archives is unearthing past transit videos and posting them on YouTube. Don't Do It is a hilarious, stern, and utterly unrealistic PSA from 1988 reminding us that "graffiti-vandalism is a crime."
Can public transit be social? Alex Marshall thinks so. The urban planner (and New York subway rider) argues today in the New York Daily News for a "Conversation Car" on the subway. Reminiscing about how he used to strike up conversations with fellow riders before they all became attached to their gadgets, Marshall observes that today such “chatting up” is nearly non-existent, as subway cars feel more like monasteries than social spaces.
As Marshall envisions it, riders who’d enter his proposed Conversation Car would do so only if "ready and willing to chat." The optimist in me says yes, such a car might help restore the dying art of conversation but I can’t help but think of the type of New Yorkers such a car might attract. Would a Conversation Car would be "a new, much-needed antidote to our solitary digital domains" or if it would feel like a bar car without the cocktails?