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'Courtesy Counts' LIRR campaign urges commuters to clean up their acts

One of the graphics from the MTA's Courtesy

One of the graphics from the MTA's Courtesy Counts, Manners Make a Better Ride poster campaign is shown. The posters will appear in railroad cars beginning in April 2015. Credit: MTA

They are the scourge of the rush hour: Nail-clipping, loud-music-listening, seat-hogging train riders.

Now, the LIRR is trying to do something about them.

The Long Island Rail Road Wednesday announced the launch of a public-awareness campaign aimed at telling riders that "Courtesy Counts."

The campaign, modeled after one adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's subway and bus systems in January, discourages age-old bad commuter habits, including putting feet up on seats, leaving bags in aisles and not stepping aside at platforms to let riders exit.

"When you're spending upwards of an hour or two per day, sharing space with others, it's important to maintain a certain level of courtesy," LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski said in a statement. "The simple act of keeping your feet off the seats or holding onto your belongings makes for a more comfortable trip for everyone."

The MTA began putting up some 2,000 posters on LIRR and Metro-North trains earlier this month featuring the etiquette tips, which officials said reflect complaints and suggestions from riders.

The 33-by-21-inch posters advise riders to "Be someone who makes it a better ride for everyone," and feature colorful illustrations, including one of a rider sending nail clippings flying around him while giving himself a manicure.

"Groom at home," the poster suggests.

Brooklyn Nets season ticket holder Marc Talkofsky, 22, rides the LIRR several times a week to attend games, and said he regularly sees riders at their very worst -- including one who recently lit up a cigarette on board a train.

"They all leave their bags on the seats. . . . Countless times I've heard people playing music with their headphones, but I can hear the music. And the conductor just doesn't do anything about it," said Talkofsky, of Plainview, who is skeptical that the posters will accomplish much. "You could put the signs up, but if it's not enforced, what does it do?"

LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein said he supports measures to encourage courtesy on board trains, including through audio announcements. But he questioned whether the LIRR's valuable ad space on trains couldn't be used for better purposes, such as informing riders of planned service disruptions.

"I don't know if someone looks at a poster, that it will make them change their behavior," Epstein said. "Riders need to really govern themselves and their own behavior. We all ride together."

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