Sao Paulo Tries New Station Seats… for the Obese

New Subway Station Seats in Sao PaoloThe chairs are twice as wide as normal and are designed to encourage the less-than-fit to ride the subway.

The London Telegraph reports that Sao Paulo has begun installing special seats in subway stations designed to encourage the city’s most overweight to use the transit system. Brazil’s largest city has a 40-mile subway system that carries more than 3 million people daily.

Brazil, like most advanced countries, is suffering from an obesity epidemic, and the new seats are part of a government initiative to improve the lives of those who can’t fit comfortably in typical chairs. The seats’ very different shape and identifiable color, however, has been a turn-off for overweight riders, who, according to the Telegraph story, don’t feel comfortable using them.

As far as I know, there is no similar initiative in United States subway or light rail systems. Too bad, though, since our obesity rate — at around a third of the adult population, is far higher than that of Brazil. It’s true that people living in cities, used to walking around, tend to be slimmer than their suburban or rural counterparts, but 20% of New Yorkers are obese.

On the other hand, the subway seats in Gotham’s new trains and most of the benches in stations are flat, without divisions, making sitting possible for people of every weight and size. Perhaps that’s a better solution than the special seats for fat people Sao Paulo has adopted.

Image above: from the Telegraph

5 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • TransitCommuter

    It seems the designers of this seat never actually worked with the people the seat was designed for.

  • Allison

    Um. Why not have bench seating? That’d fit obese riders without having to have a big blue label that says “FAT PEOPLE SIT HERE”

    It’s….it’s silly.

  • ER

    This is unnecessary and kind of discriminatory. Isn’t the hallmark of good design that the product is able, by default, to accommodate as many people as possible? Either all the seats should be larger (smaller people would fit in them, too), or there should be open benches (flexibility in both the size and quantity of users). Not exactly a revolutionary concept in the world of seating.

  • Be careful – the obesity numbers you give aren’t comparable. The US national rates are given by measuring people’s weights, whereas the other numbers are given by asking people how much they weigh, which gives lower answers. By the same metric that New York is 20% obese, the US as a whole is 23% obese, not 33%.

  • Kevin

    People need to lose weight!

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