A proposed ban on smelly food on New York’s subway has sparked calls among London’s commuters for similar action on the Underground.
NYC’s transport boss Joe Lhota has prompted debate in the Big Apple by suggesting a clampdown on hot foods on the subway, after being subjected to a fellow passenger’s spilt Chinese takeaway. Disgusting though the experience was, more seriously a fire caused by take-away wrappers left nine passengers in hospital earlier this week. Lhota told a press conference: “Just recently I was on a train and someone got on with a styrofoam thing of Chinese food. “There was a lot of rice and other things. Inevitably the rice fell. It was all over the place. I want to avoid things like that.”
The anecdote will resonate with many Londoners, who regularly shame fellow commuters on social media for ruining their journey eating late-night burgers or kebabs. Across the pond, the calls have caused controversy between subway eaters – who regularly enjoy a bagel on their way to work and a pizza slice on their return home – and those who consider such behaviour abhorrent. Bans are already enforced on subway trains in Washington, San Francisco and Chicago.
— Rocco Vertuccio (@RoccoNY1) July 19, 2017
In 2015 Conservative peer Lord Sherbourne called for a ban on hot food on the Tube because it is “offensive” but nothing came of it. He today called for London Underground to carry out a survey on the Tube to see if there is support for a hot food ban – a move he supports.
He said: “What I would like London Underground to do as a first step is to do a comprehensive survey of passenger opinion to find out their views and whether they would support a ban. I would like to see a ban on people eating hot food on the Tube. The reason is exactly the reason he (Joe Lhota) gave. Hot food can be very offensive in terms of very strong smells and also a health hazard if people start leaving it on the Tube.” If greasy papers were also put on seats, the next person who sat on it could find their clothes besmirched. He believes the ban on alcohol on the Tube has been successful.
Today, Londoners gave broad support to such a scheme on the Tube. Geoff Marshall, a transport expert who twice broke the record for travelling to all Tube stations in the least time, said: “Hot food is a mega no-no. Don’t ever get on the Tube with hot food. It’s smelly and it makes a mess. I’ve had someone eat a burrito before opposite of me, chatting to a friend completely unaware of the mess he was making. And everytime a bit of his food dropped onto my foot I raised my leg and flicked it off. After about the tenth time, he finally noticed.”
But Petko Plachkov, founder of travelcard website commuterclub.co.uk, said: “While we are sympathetic to any initiative that helps commuters, we see this proposal as more about etiquette as opposed to law making. We think money and time could be better spent focusing on ways to reduce congestion and ticket costs.” A TfL spokesman said that while people were “encouraged not to eat smelly foods,” no ban was being considered.
Be that as may be anecdotal research by The Eagle suggests the two biggest turn offs on The Tube are life support systems for armpits bashing other passengers with enormous back packs and people with hot food or drink who can spill them on you directly or indirectly by soiling the seats.
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.