RT Board Considering Rule to Remove Passengers Who Smell From Public Transit

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Sacramento’s Regional Transit board will consider new rules for riders, including a proposal that would allow transit personnel to remove someone from a train or bus if other riders are disturbed by the way he or she smells.

The proposals, to amend RT’s Title XII, would set forth new rules of conduct by which riders must abide.

Almost every day Ashley Johnson rides the RT trains to get to school and work.

She says the ride… well… it stinks.

"Honestly it happens pretty much all the time," said Johnson, when asked how often she sits next to a fellow rider whose scent is, in her words, unbearable.

"I've actually like moved trains or like switched seats because people smell so bad,” said Johnson.

It may sound trivial, but it’s important enough to the RT Board of Directors that Monday they'll discuss whether or not a rider's hygiene is a valid reason to remove them from a bus or train.

"If we don't create a good user experience, we lose ridership,” said Sacramento District 3 Councilman Jeff Harris.

Harris has exclusively used public transit to and from work during the past two weeks to get a better understanding of how the RT system works. He says the proposed new rules are meant to make the experience comfortable for all riders.

“This particular rule was adopted after conducting numerous riders of RT," said Harris.

Sacramento's RT system covers 418 square miles, which includes 27 miles of light rail and 80 different bus routes. For some, it’s the only way to get around.

Some riders say it would be cruel to remove riders who may be homeless or may not have access to a shower.

"That's taking someone's civil rights away,” said Daniel Gonzales.

"As long as someone's not disruptive verbally, I'm sorry the smell, that's what windows are for,” said Tammy Buhler.

The other proposed Title XII rules for riders include the following:

  • Boarding without shirts, pants or shoes with no soles.
  • Sleeping on the train after it has reached the end of the rail.
  • Blaring music too loudly.

These items are all set on the agenda for Monday's meeting. If the matter comes to a vote, Councilmember Harris says he's a yes.

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