Update 7/31: Further detective work has uncovered a new lead on pamphlets in downtown Brooklyn. The crack BuskNY team is headed over to investigate and will let you know if pamphlets are found.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a post on how to request an MTA rules pamphlet. This was important to be able to demonstrate to MTA officials and to police what the rules say, and it also makes a visual impact when it’s sitting in the case.
As a matter of fact, this booklet is even recommended by the NYPD’s own crime prevention page:
“All persons who are interested in performing on the subway and who wish to avoid violating the law are strongly advised to contact New York City Transit beforehand to get a copy of the Rules of Conduct, as well as a more complete explanation of their requirements.”
When I wrote that post, I submitted my own new request for the booklet through MTA.info to check if the process was working. Four days later, on 7/22, I received this response:
“We truly appreciate your interest in New York City Transit. The information you requested may be available under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). You must submit an electronic FOIL request to the appropriate MTA Agency via the FOIL Request page on the MTA web site. If you send an electronic FOIL request in any other way or to the wrong agency, you will not receive the records you are seeking. You may submit an electronic FOIL request at http://new.mta.info//foil.htm. Be sure to select the appropriate MTA Agency.”
This was not what’s supposed to happen — but I went ahead and completed a FOIL request addressed to MTA Headquarters. Two days later, on 7/24, I received this response:
“In response to your FOIL request, below is the link from the MTA website for the New York City Transit Rules of Conduct
This completes the MTA’s response to your FOIL request.”
I replied that I needed a physical copy of the booklet, and was immediately emailed a phone number to call the woman I was emailing with. I called, and she said that I should go to the New York Transit Authority building at 130 Livingston St., Brooklyn to get a copy in person. I took down the address, and although things were interrupted by my arrest, I got down there yesterday on the 29th:
I walked in, but to no avail: the check-in staff told me they had never even heard such a question before and couldn’t tell me where to go. And without a specific office to go to, I wasn’t even allowed in the building.
Fortunately, I’m not easily dissuaded. I called up the MTA representative I had spoken with before, and she said she could call around to find out. She then emailed back with this:
“I called someone at New York City Transit; she has a Rules of Conduct booklet dated 2005 (which I am told is the most recent); if you want to pick it up, you can call [redacted] or she can mail it to you.”
I called the new number, gave my address, and was told that the pamphlet will be mailed out. “In fact, it’s my very last copy,” she said. “Wait, then I have another question,” I said. “I know a number of other musicians who need this pamphlet, and one has already told me that mta.info responds that the supply is exhausted. Who can we call?”
She was unsure.
I emailed back the MTA representative from before, explained about the warning on the NYPD site, and asked if she was aware of any remaining stock of pamphlets. She said she would inquire. Three hours later, she replied with this:
“I am told that the Rules of Conduct brochure has not been printed for several years. The link you provided to me is from the NYPD website, which does not appear to be up-to-date. The Rules of Conduct on the MTA website are current. I was also informed that abbreviated rules are posted in some stations on the front of station booths.”
Now, I am not sure if she’s aware that officers routinely ignore home-printed rules on 8.5×11.” I do assume she’s aware that we are not allowed to play in front of station booths where the abbreviated rules are posted. But in any case, I wrote back with this:
“The link I provided is dated 2013.”
I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll keep pushing. In the meantime, I’d invite anyone who’s filed a request and had it turned down to drop me an email so I can get a rough count. Again: it is NOT fair for the NYPD to request a pamphlet that cannot be obtained.