The MTA wants to prevent you from taking pictures on subways, buses, and Staten Island Rapid Transit!

Update: The original notice of proposed rulemaking would have expired on May 22, 2005. On May 18, the MTA published a "notice of continuation," postponing the consideration period for another six months. The period now runs through November 23, 2005, although the notice of continuation erroneously lists the new expiration date as November 24.

The notice of continuation means that the MTA hasn't approved or rejected the photo ban yet, but they haven't taken it off the table, either. The notice says that no changes have officially been made to the proposal, but it indicates that the MTA is considering revising the portions that relate to photography, sections 1040.4(f) and 1050.9(c). (Actually, the notice refers to section 1059(c), which does not exist. Based on context, 1050.9(c) is the most likely candidate.)

Although the public comment period has officially ended, if you have strong opinions on this issue and have not yet done so, please write to the MTA and tell them how you feel.

Currently, photography on New York City subways and buses is permitted. If you have doubts, please consult the current rules of conduct. The MTA board needs to vote on any rule amendments before this can change. A vote is most likely to occur at a general MTA board meeting; these meetings are held on the last Wednesday of every month at 347 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor Board Room.

You heard it here first:

The MTA wants to prevent you from taking pictures on subways, buses, and Staten Island Rapid Transit!

On November 24, 2004, New York's MTA proposed revising their rules of conduct to prohibit photography on the city's subways and buses. This is allegedly being done in the name of security, to hamper terrorist planning, but it will also interfere with anyone else's right to take photographs on MTA property.

Tell the MTA that you find this proposal objectionable! Send your comments by January 8, 2005, to David Goldenberg, New York City Transit Authority, 130 Livingston Street, Room 1207, Brooklyn NY 11201, 718-694-5454.

Feel free to take a "free ride" on my own public comment by writing a letter that refers to it. Use this sample letter if you want, and modify it to suit your needs. For example, this is fine:

I agree in full with all of the points raised by Mark Mentovai in his public comment dated December 1, 2004, and oppose the adoption of a ban on photography.

This is the same photography ban that the MTA floated as an idea in May 2004. Because there was no forward movement and massive public opposition, it appeared that the proposal would be dropped. However, in November 2004, the MTA quietly began pursuing the official procedure to ban photography. They are required by law to entertain public comment, so tell the MTA how you feel and pass this information on to anyone who might find it interesting.

Over the next few days, I plan on preparing an "executive summary" of my public comment and forwarding it directly to additional interested parties, such as MTA board members and various state and city government officials. I am also seeking expanded media coverage, and plan to prepare an op-ed assessment of the proposal.

If you'd like to get involved, or would like to direct a comment to me, feel free to e-mail me.

Related information:

Media Coverage:

Other Links:


Mark Mentovai
2004 November 30
2005 May 18