The Real Scandal of Clinton’s Subway Trip: She Violated the NYC Metro Rules

• April 8, 2016 11:01 am


Hillary Clinton swept headlines Thursday after her struggle to get through the turnstiles at the New York subway, but social media critics missed the greater story of the former secretary of state violating the metro rules while city officials looked on.

The Guardian picked up on the scandal Friday morning, reporting in an opinion piece:

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Rules of Conduct, the subway system is for transporting riders to their destinations, and nothing else. But the rules list several exceptions, including "campaigning". So far, so good, Hillary Clinton. However, Section 1050.6(c)1 of the subway rules states unequivocally that none of these activities may be performed on the actual subway cars. This is the rule Clinton broke. Clinton’s defenders might think the short subway trip wasn’t actually campaigning, but I’d urge them to watch a video of her two-stop ride – from Yankee Stadium to 170th Street – that clearly shows Clinton glad-handing on the train itself.

Media outlets flooded the Internet with videos of Clinton swiping her MetroCard five times before she was finally given the green light to walk through the turnstile. Critics took to twitter to evaluate the situation.

But, as The Guardian pointed out, the greater scandal of Clinton’s subway ride was her explicit violation of the city’s metro rules caught on camera.

While Clinton escaped subway enforcement without incident, New Yorkers who ride the subway daily face punishment that could come in the form of a $25 fine or even jail time. These riders are typically musicians and artists struggling to make an extra buck who are prohibited from performing on subway cars, The Guardian noted.

"When performers are playing music they are thought to be committing a crime and arrested," Matthew Christian of BuskNY, a group that does advocacy for New York subway musicians, told The Guardian. "And apparently when Hillary Clinton does public speaking on a train car that is not considered a violation of the statute."

Clinton took the 4 Train uptown Thursday morning while she was campaigning in New York ahead of the state's April 19 primary election. Riding around peak rush hour, Clinton took questions from reporters while her entourage stood by.

The Guardian suggested a remedy for the former first lady's actions:

In light of Clinton’s violation of the subway rules, she should seek out the next subway busker she can find and give him or her $125, an amount equal to the potential criminal and civil fines for the statutes that she violated this morning. That would be a suitable way for the Clinton campaign to put this scandal behind her, and to show that rich and powerful New Yorkers won’t simply take advantage of their positions to violate our subway’s rules without a nod towards those who can’t get away with it.

Clinton's Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, who grew up in Brooklyn, meanwhile believed until last week that New Yorkers used "tokens" to enter the subway. The city shifted to MetroCards in 2003.