Do warning signs actually work?


Virtually every public transportation system has signs in each train car, bus, and station telling you which behaviors are prohibited. For instance, you’re not allowed to panhandle on a train. But I frequently see people going through the train cars — and even hopping through the emergency exit doors — to beg for change. Never once have I seen police or security staff try to enforce the no panhandling rule. This makes me wonder: do the warning signs help at all?

The panhandlers probably don’t care about getting arrested, or feel confident they’ll never be caught, or are so crazy that they believe they’re trapped in another universe and are collecting change for their interdimensional trip back home. Either way, the widespread violation of the posted rules underscores the need to enforce them more effectively. If that’s not possible, I believe you’re better off not bothering with the empty threat that the signs represent. Get the funding for proper enforcement first, so the signage actually means something.