I came across an article today in a magazine I subscribe to and it really got my attention on how we as a society have changed to accommodate ones physical build. This has taken me most of the Morning to gather up facts, pictures and some old artifacts. Most of this story has to deal with travel on public transportation the likes of Busses and Trains.
In a recent article in the March edition of “Chicago” Magazine, writer Jeff Ruby aka (The Urbanist) wrote about Chicago’s new fleet of Elevated Rail Cars. ( The Cars from El). In describing the new cars he told of the Modern Seats being 17-1/2″ wide. This got me thinking after seeing a picture of these new seats of how much seating on public transportation has evolved.
I remember riding Public transportation in Chicago when I was young and remember the seating arrangement on the cars of the Elevated trains and Streetcars. In the early 40′s the cars were wooden and not heated in the Winter but the windows did open for Summer travel and the double seats were upholstered and 47-51″ wide. These could accommodate two 22 to 25 inch Asses or even a young child between two adults.
Then in the 50/60′s the cars became Modern and double seating was 37″ wide and they were upholstered in a plastic fabric. Most of the seats were double but a few were single and ran along the sides of the car, these were 17-1/2″ For the most part, 17 -1/2″ was the norm for passenger seating from the early 50′s to the present day. In researching seating requirements I found this to be the norm in Aircraft also. So if it’s becoming the norm to charge an Airline Passenger twice for a seat because his or her Ass fails to meet the norm, being 17 1/2″ wide, I foresee the day when Public transportation will prohibit travel on any of it’s means of transportation unless one conforms to it’s safety regulations. Thus reducing the obese public back to normal requirements of possessing a 17 1/2″ wide Ass
In updating this Blog, I read that The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the width of a passenger seat has to be increased to 18-1/2″ to accommodate societies larger Ass and the Footprint of a passenger will need to be increased from 1.25 Sq. Ft. to a whopping 1.75 Sq. Ft. and the average weight of a passenger has increased from 150 Lbs. to an unbelievable 175 Lbs. How many people do you know personally that can stand in an area of roughly 16-1/2 square inches and not protrude over that dimension. I have a 38in. waist, weigh in at under 190Lbs. Under current standards, I would over be over extending the Government standard by .09547 sq. in. in my allotted Footprint. My weight however is exceeding Government standards by almost 35 Lbs. Under the new proposed sizes for passengers on board public transportation, I would fit into my allotted Footprint but still exceed my weight limit by 15 Lbs. Now here is the kicker. Current Gross Vehicle weights for Busses and Rail cars were determined by standards developed back in the 50’s, using the 150 Lb. and the 1.25 Sq.In. rule. If today’s new standards are implemented ( which is another thing Congress would have to agree on) The amount of seating capacity would have to be reduced to accommodate a 18-1/2 seat and 1.75sq. in. footprint for standing Passengers, thus making today’s current Busses and Rail cars unsafe to handle with the additional weight and Volume. Beefing up today’s Busses and Railcars to accept the increased weight would be cost prohibited not to mention the strain put on existing framework of the Busses and Rail cars.
Braking, stability,and cornering along with fuel economy and overall comfort would be compromised if we kept using present day forms of transportation under newly proposed safety standards, and what about other forms of Transportation, wouldn’t they also be subject to adjusted safety standards concerning passenger size and weight? Think about that next time you step onboard an Elevator and everyone onboard exceeds their allotted Footprint of 1.25 Sq.Ft. and their average weight of 150 Lbs. and the Plaque over the panel states a weight limit and occupancy level. Do the math.
I’m glad I have less than a 17 1/2 in Ass, but I have to work on that 175 Lb. limit for public transportation standards, after all, as a Modern Day society concerned with the Health and safety of all of us, We must conform now, mustn’t we!