No PATH Photos for You!

The other day, I was riding the PATH Train from New Jersey to Manhattan and the Conductor — he’s the guy who manages opening and closing the doors and making announcements while the Engineers “drives” the train — came up to an Asian couple and demanded the woman delete the photograph of the train she took right before boarding. The woman was confused and embarrassed, but she followed the order and the Conductor watched her remove the photograph from her cellphone.  If she’d been using a traditional film camera, would the Conductor have confiscated her entire film roll?  The woman’s boyfriend took a more aggressive perch, and said, “There are no signs prohibiting taking pictures.”

The Conductor brusquely retorted, “There are signs everywhere.  Look for them.”  Then the Conductor left the car.  A few minutes passed and the Conductor came running back into our car to retrieve the train keys he’d left dangling in the control panel switchbox so he could bawl out the woman.  I thought to myself, “Which is a greater threat to the people riding a PATH train?  A tourist taking a photograph, or a Conductor who leaves his keys behind for the taking?”

When I arrived home, I decided to do some research on this “No PATH Photos” policy.  I knew that in the aftermath of 9/11, airports tried to ban photographers from taking images of planes on the runway — but that effort was defeated in court as freedom of association and picture-taking was preserved.  Transportation hubs belong to the people, not the policy makers.

Here’s what I found on the PATH Rules & Regulations webpage.  I’m publishing the entire section concerning “Photography and similar activity” because the monstrosity reads like an absurdist play while “similar activity” conveniently conjures up the “Commie Pinko” meme:

IX. Photography and similar activity.

A. The taking or making of photographs of any portion of the PATH system is prohibited except as provided herein.

B. The taking or making of films, video recordings, and drawings or other visual depictions are subject to the same prohibitions, restrictions and procedures as are applicable to photography.

C. Photography which involves any of the following must comply with the requirements of the Extended Photography Policy and Procedures, in addition to these Rules:

1. Exclusive use of any area or any railcar or part of a railcar.

2. Exclusion of members of the public, PATH or Port Authority personnel, or PATH or Port Authority contractors from any area or any railcar or part of a railcar.

3. Use of equipment other than handheld equipment with self-contained power sources.

D.
1. No person may take a photograph of any portion of the PATH system unless he or she is accompanied by a representative of PATH.

2. No photograph shall be taken of any specific location, device or structure if such representative advises that such photography is prohibited because it will create an image which could be used to aid in the planning of an attempt to disable, destroy, avoid or circumvent any operational, safety, security, evacuation or emergency response device, structure or procedure, or which could be used in the planning of an attempt to commit an act of violence or intentionally cause disruption of rail service or public panic within the PATH system or a part thereof. If possible, a suggestion for alternative photography in PATH which would not have such an effect shall be made by the PATH representative.

3. A photographer and all members of his or her party shall follow the directions of such representative made for the purpose of preventing unreasonable interference with PATH operations, maintenance and construction, and to preserve the health and safety of the photographer or others.

4. A photographer may protest any direction made pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) in the same manner as an appeal from the denial of a permit as set forth herein.

E. No person may take any photograph within PATH unless he or she has been issued a permit therefore by PATH as set forth herein.

1. A permit application shall be submitted in writing no later than thirty-six (36) hours preceding the commencement of the activities for which the permit is sought, and no earlier than seven (7) days preceding the commencement of the activities for which the permit is sought.

2. Permit application shall be submitted in person to the PATH Permit Administrator, or the designee thereof, during the hours of 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

3. The permit application shall set forth the type, time, location and duration of activities to be conducted, and the name, address and telephone number of the person making the request (in the case of a group, it shall be sufficient to supply the name, address, and telephone number of the person who can be contacted if problems arise concerning the granting of the request). If a person making the application indicates an affiliation with an organization or group, the name and address of a local representative of the organization or group to act as a liaison will be requested; however, refusal to provide such information shall not be grounds for denial of a permit.

4. Permits will be granted on a first-come, first serve basis depending on the availability of escorts. An application will be denied in whole or in part only if: (a) the presence of visitors in a requested location would unreasonably interfere with PATH operations, maintenance and construction; (b) if the conduct cannot be performed without creating an image which could be used to aid in the planning of an attempt to disable, destroy, avoid or circumvent any operational, safety, security, evacuation or emergency response device, structure or procedure, or which could be used in the planning of an attempt to commit an act of violence or intentionally cause disruption of rail service or public panic within the PATH system or a part thereof; (c) if the location requested may not be visited safely by persons other than PATH or other operation, construction or maintenance personnel; (d) the application is incomplete; or, (e) the application discloses that the activities to be performed thereunder will violate these Rules.

5. A permit will be issued, or the application denied, by the PATH Permit Administrator or a designee thereof, no later than 5:00 PM of the day following submission of the application, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays recognized by PATH. The reason for the denial of an application or any part thereof shall be set forth in writing.

6. (a) Upon the denial of any application for a permit, or the failure to issue apermit by 5:00 PM of the day following submission of the application, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays recognized by PATH, the applicant may submit a written appeal to the PATH General Manager, or a designee thereof, setting forth the reasons why the application should be granted.
(b) An appeal shall be submitted in person to the PATH Permit Administrator, or a designee thereof, during the hours of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The PATH Permit Administrator, or the designee thereof, shall cause the appeal to be delivered to the General Manager, or a designee thereof.

7. A written decision denying the appeal, or issuing a permit, shall be made no later than 5:00 PM of the day following submission of the appeal, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays recognized by PATH. If no decision is issued by 5:00 PM of the day following submission of the appeal, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays recognized by PATH, the appeal shall be deemed to be denied on the basis of the original decision denying the application.

8. A decision made in response to an application for a permit or an appeal of a denial of a permit shall not disclose information which could be used to aid in the planning of an attempt to disable, destroy, avoid or circumvent any operational, safety, security, evacuation or emergency response device, structure or procedure, or which could be used in the planning of an attempt to commit an act of violence or intentionally cause disruption of rail service or a public panic within the PATH system or a part thereof.

9. Any person whose application for a permit has been denied may seek review of the final decision denying such application in a proceeding commenced pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Laws and Rules of the State of New York, or action in lieu of prerogative writ in the courts of the State of New Jersey.

10. The General Manager of PATH, or in his or her absence, the person designated to act in his or her stead for general management purposes, may withdraw or suspend a permit for photography in the event of, and during the pendency of, an emergency condition such as a snowstorm, fire, accident, power failure, transportation carrier schedule interruption, or other condition of such nature and character that the conduct of permitted activities would cause a danger to persons or property during the pendency of such emergency condition.

11. For the purpose of this regulation, “holidays” refers to the days set forth in VII (D) (13) above.

What a punishing mandate!  Should we expect any less? Those 1,256 words make no real sense from a public safety standpoint. If we accept these inventions of public policy without challenging them, then those monstrosities begin to live external lives and they threaten our human security by becoming settled, mechanical, policy that swallows our every intention.

We live in a post-modern apocalyptic world where the politicians below us sense danger everywhere and they believe every citizen is a potential terrorist. If you do a simple image search for — “PATH train nj ny” — you will find hundreds of images online.  Does displaying those images make Bing and Flickr and their ilk co-conspirators?

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