BOSTON (CBS) — The MBTA launched a new digital campaign Friday to tackle two top complaints – “manspreading” and riders with big backpacks bumping people and taking up space.

The idea is to make riding the T more comfortable. The message? Courtesy counts.

One of the new ads at Copley Station features a dog wearing a backpack filled with puppies, and the request to “remove your backpack,” – a cute reminder that backpacks can hog space.

mbta backpack dog MBTA Ads Aim To Discourage Manspreading, Riding With Big Backpacks

The ad urging riders to remove their backpacks (WBZ)

“There can be a lot of people on the train and the more space you make for other people, the more pleasant the ride is,” one rider said.

The MBTA’s new interim general manager, Steve Poftak, says this is just the start.

“We’re going to expand the number of messages and we’re also going to roll them out to other stations,” he told WBZ-TV.

Next week riders will see a message featuring a cat and a plea to stop manspreading, with the advice to “only take the seats you need.” The T says complaints about manspreading, where people drape themselves over more than one seat, is a big source of frustration.

mbta cat gif MBTA Ads Aim To Discourage Manspreading, Riding With Big Backpacks

The cat ad discouraging manspreading (WBZ)

“Everyone wants their own space, and if it’s rush hour it’s kind of not fair,” says another rider.

The messages keep on coming in coming weeks, like “give peace and quiet a chance,” “cover your mouth when you sneeze,” and “don’t litter.

“I’m hopeful that it’s amusing enough that it does catch people’s eye. There’s a clear appetite that we’ve seen on social media for people to not do this type of behavior, so I’m hopeful that just the reminder is enough,” Poftak said.

“I think it comes down to common courtesy, and I would hope if they do a campaign, it works. But we’ll see I guess,” says a rider.

The digital campaign is not costing the MBTA a dime. It’s part of the contract with the company that operates the ad panels.





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