Women Told They Must Ride In The Back Of The Bus In Brooklyn

Even today women are being sent to the back of the bus, and we're not talking metaphorically or in some foreign country. Women who ride the B110 bus in Brooklyn can't sit where they want unless they're okay with being berated by Orthodox Jewish men, even though technically the B110 is a public bus.

The B110, which travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park is open to anyone, has a route number, and goes to city bus stops. However, the line is run by a private company under a decades-old agreement with the city, and since the bus is designed to serve the Hasidic community in the area, a board of rabbis sets the rules. They've decreed that women should sit in the back and men should sit in the front to avoid contact betwen members of the opposite sex.

Recently a woman volunteered to see what happens when someone challenges the regulation, so she paid the $2.50 fare and took a seat in the front of the bus. Columbia Journalism School's The New York World reports:

They were 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.

"If God makes a rule, you don't ask ‘Why make the rule?'" he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

The Orthodox Jewish community would have the right to make such a rule if it was a private bus, but it actually isn't. The company Private Transportation Corporation pays the city to run the route, but since the bus is providing a public service, discrimination laws still apply. It's possible that a religious group could be granted an exeption from these laws, but there's no evidence that this is the case with the B110. Private Transportation Corporation can work on altering its relationship with the city so that those in the Orthodox Jewish community can set their own rules, but until then it's the same as a man screaming at a woman about her choice of seat on any other form of public transportation.

Women Ride In Back On Sex-Segregated Brooklyn Bus Line [New York World]