New York may shut down bus service that makes women sit in back

NEW YORK Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:48pm EDT

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City authorities said on Thursday they will shut down a Brooklyn bus service run by Orthodox Jews if the group doesn't stop making women sit at the back of the bus.

The Private Transportation Corp, which operates the city's public B110 bus under a franchise arrangement, has come under criticism after recent publicity about its practice of making female riders give up their seats in the front to promote Hasidic customs of gender separation.

New York City's Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel said the agency's executive director Anne Koenig has asked the company to respond to the allegations and was waiting to hear back.

"Please be advised that a practice of requiring women to ride in the back ... would constitute a direct violation of your franchise agreement and may lead to termination of that agreement," Koenig wrote.

If such a violation is found, the franchise could be revoked, the DOT said in a statement.

The Private Transportation Corp declined comment.

The B110 bus runs through the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park that are heavily populated by Orthodox Jews.

The company's seating practices got attention this week after a student reporter at the Columbia University published a story about a female bus rider told by other riders to give up her seat in the front. Other news outlets then sent reporters who encountered similar situations.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a Wednesday news conference that gender separation is "obviously not permitted" on public buses.

"Private people, you can have a private bus," he said. "Go rent a bus, and do what you want on it."

The DOT said the public bus has been franchised to Private Transportation Corp since 1973 and is not subsidized by city money. No exemptions have been granted to the company to comply with the city's anti-discrimination standards, it said.

Deborah Lauter, director of Civil Rights for the Anti-Defamation League, said in an e-mail to Reuters: "We oppose the practice of gender-segregation on public buses as discriminatory and unlawful. If a community feels it needs gender-segregated buses, then they should not involve the city."

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and David Bailey)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (6)
JamVee wrote:
The whole thing is totally asinine, separation by Gender is a bygone concept. It sounds like Islam (which speaks volumes about how many rules, customs, and DNA, are shared by Jews and Muslims).

In any case, if they had made the men sit in the back of the bus, the subject would probably never have been broached!

Oct 20, 2011 5:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
koerper70 wrote:
If they are using a government-owned bus operated under the auspices of a government institution, then they have to expect to follow the public rules. “He who holds the purse strings holds the power.”

However, if they want to buy their own bus, they should be allowed to discriminate for or against anyone they want in any way they want.

Oct 20, 2011 5:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CtrOfTheRoad wrote:
JamVee – I’m not disagreeing that Gender seperation is totally asinine, but your comment about (all) Jews and (all) Muslims sharing DNA is equally asinine.
Which Jews? Which Muslims? You’re telling me a Jew in NYC shares the same DNA as a Muslim living in Indonesia or Pakistan? If you had just said that some or even most Israelis and Palestinians share or “might” share DNA then you might have been leaning towards a slightly true statement. But you vague generalization smacks of Islamaphobic and Antisemetic values.
You started off on a good track, then you fell off the rails friend. Careful what you say and how you say it.

Oct 20, 2011 5:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.