In many ways, the B110 bus that connects South Williamsburg and Borough Park seems like any other bus. It has a route number and blue bus stop signs like any other city bus, and it’s open to the public. But the B110 is operated by a private company, Private Transportation Corporation, which pays the city for the right to provide a public service. And reporter Sasha Chavkin finds that on this bus—which caters to a predominately Orthodox Jewish ridership—special rules apply. Namely, women get the Rosa Parks treatment.
Chavkin recently asked an acquaintance to ride the B110 recently and found that female passengers are asked to sit in the back. His canary in the Hasidic coalmine encountered a bus full with “Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding ‘a private bus’ and ‘a Jewish bus.'” When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her, explaining, “If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?”
A female Post reporter had a similar experience when she sat in the front of the B110, where signs written in Hebrew and English also direct women to use the back door during busy times.
This bus in question is run by a private company, but has a contract with New York City in order to operate — and that contract requires that the franchise “comply with all applicable laws and is prohibited from discriminating in the provision of the bus service on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, handicap, marital status, or real or perceived sexual orientation.”
In other words, they’re really not supposed to be sending women to the back of the bus. But it’s kind of amazing how many commenters over at Gothamist are like, “It’s religion, not discrimination!” Sure.
Thanks, Zuzu, for the link.