NO Photography On Platforms

Hytec Mar 13, 2009

  1. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    This was posted on today's (3/12/09) Trains News Wire......
    (I also posted this on the Passenger Forum so more folks would see it.)


    Amtrak bans photographers from station platforms

    Published: Thursday, March 12, 2009 (Trains News Wire)
    WASHINGTON - Amtrak has released a new photography policy that bans photographers without tickets from station platforms. The policy, which comes in the wake of an embarrassing case of photographer harassment in New York's Penn Station, was hashed out with input from the National Press Photographer's Association.

    The guidelines specifically permit photography in "public access areas" on Amtrak property, which it defines as "[a]n area open to general public access and occupancy that is not otherwise posted or restricted by posted signs or locking devices." However, it specifically states that station platforms are for ticketed passengers only. For their part, ticketed passengers will be able to take photos from station platforms while preparing to board a train or immediately after getting off one.

    Walter Zullig, a regional vice president for the National Railway Historical Society and an attorney, lambasted the new policy in an interview with TRAINS News Wire today. "It's been done to enhance their legal position," Zullig said. "It does not help at all enhancing railroad photography, and I think it's really a poor way to treat your best friends."

    Zullig said the NRHS encourages members to railfan from station platforms because they're safe. The new Amtrak policy, though, apparently will unreasonably prohibit that in most cases. "We can understand it in a place like Penn Station in New York or Union Station in Washington or 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, where they control access to the platform," Zullig said. "But they've written this in a way that could apply to Truckee, Calif. It's overkill."

    Zullig said his group will push to get Amtrak to change the policy.

    An Amtrak spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
     
  2. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is goofy.

    The whole idea that TERRORISTS come take photos using conspicuous camera gear is just goofy. The people writing these laws should spend more time actually chasing down terrorists and less time watching prime time action dramas and getting absurd notions that a "terrorist" would send a guy out with an obvious bit of camera kit (instead of just a cell phone camera) to get their much-rumored photo surveillance.

    Uggh.

    \rant

    Adam
     
  3. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's not just trains. At Thanksgiving, I was told to stop taking pictures of a Martha's Vineyard ferry when it was docking--by a dock worker. A New York Times contributor was stopped while taking video of the Verrazano Bridge, and given a ticket by a policeman.

    My general feeling is that sense will eventually prevail. I'm not outraged by occasional restrictions, legal or not, as people are just trying their best, and photos are rarely once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. There was no point in arguing with a dock worker, so I just moved away from him and shot from a different angle, which was a better angle.

    I've been publishing writings and photos for more than 40 years now, so very little in the process bothers me. Now, if someone demanded that I surrender film or a camera--uh, no way! And if a once-in-a-lifetime event were happening, I would totally ignore any unlawful restriction.
     
  4. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Wonder when the first challenge to this rule will take place? Somehow I can't see this standing up in a court of law. With little cash for new equipment and new routes, wonder if common sense is also in short supply?
     
  5. DragonFyreGT

    DragonFyreGT TrainBoard Member

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    Please don't misconscue what I'm about to say on the whole "Prevent Terrorism" aspect they have this policy for... but I don't think Amtrak needs to worry about "terrorists" hijacking and crashing a train. They do a good enough job on their own w/o help.

    Okay Joke aside, I think they need to re-think this policy. Unless they own the platforms which I still don't believe they do, what are they going to do to check passengers out? Airport style security? Because that would be going overboard. It'd be like a single file line on the platform while armed guards scan you and check IDs and background checks and something like that would completely be called into question, if not by the Government, then by the FRA. I guess I fail to see how their going to enforce this policy without making themselves out to look like an Iron Fisted Dictatorship.

    This isn't to say I don't think Rail travel is at risk, It is, and I'm okay with safety precautions, but not ones that basically treat us all like we're going to blow up a train with a camera.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, I posted this article on the two forums because I felt it was breaking news and both audiences needed the information. The initial responses were sufficiently different on the two forums which seemed to confirm this.

    However, it now appears that the responses on both threads are merging and beginning to get off the subject. So I leave the future up to the administrators.
     
  8. Midnight Railroader

    Midnight Railroader TrainBoard Member

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    I'd be interested to see how that "ticket" played out in court, since it had to be for a spurious offense--there is no law that makes taking a picture of a boat illegal.

    Cops frequently try to make up their own rules like this, knowing that most people will be intimidated. Lawsuits are the best way to stop them.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hank-

    It's not a problem. I was just referencing the other, so people could check there. Two in an instance such as this are not inappropriate. So I have left them as is.

    Hopefully, they won't wander far afield.

    Boxcab E50
     
  10. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sorry, I didn't follow this story. It was the "Travel on the Cheap" (my description) contributor on his cross-country trip a few years ago. He may have been cited for videotaping while driving. He didn't make a big deal of it. I mentioned it because it was in the NY Times.
     
  11. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    The MBTA lightened up about 2 years ago and issued the following:
    Full article:
    http://transitpolice.us/Photo%20Policy/Photo%20Policy%201.pdf

    Hmm, wonder if the new AMTRAK decree applies to South Station:
    ooops:
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Midnight Railroader

    Midnight Railroader TrainBoard Member

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    100% unlawful. A person may not be compelled to show any official their identification while taking part in a lawful activity. Photographing a train (or any person in plain sight, for that matter) is not illegal, so unless you're on MBTA property, their police cannot lawfully compel you to show them ID.

    This kind of thing just cries out for someone to take MBTA to court if they are so accosted and win lots of money from the railroad.

    That's the only way to get some people to understand that they don't get to make up their own laws.
     
  13. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not exactly, although the sense of your comment is entirely correct. You must show identification, when asked, while lawfully entering many countries, and many restricted facilities within the U.S. An official can ask for ID if there is probable cause to do so. Probable cause will be the defense in any lawsuit, and the courts have proven very lenient in their interpretation.

    In more specific terms of photography, I think we've been overly concerned about our rights in the US. I haven't read of any cases where film, memory cards, or cameras have been seized, apart from within restricted facilities. Of course, it's happened in the past, and there's a lot of hearsay about belligerent officials. I agree that someone would win a lawsuit about an egregious abuse. I haven't heard of one in the past decade. I also think the damages awarded would be nominal, not big bucks.

    The MBTA may have a right to declare their facilities as sensitive. I believe their police have full legal enforcement powers. This really muddies the situation. As a constituted authority, they can make policies, and the line between policies and laws in this area is, at least to me, really muddy.

    I've encountered situations where an official asked me what I was doing twice since 2001. A simple explanation and a smile ended both encounters. I think when it comes to civil law civility will end any misunderstandings.
     
  14. DragonFyreGT

    DragonFyreGT TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not so sure about their police being as fully lawed as normal Law Enforcement. A Good example is this: One day I was behind a driver who clearly had 3 year olds in the back seat and he drove around the gates on EJ&E's line. Although the train was actually a Hi-Rail truck doing maintainence, my belief is that once those gates go down, you are tresspassing if you go around them. They are, basically, there for your safety. So I called the EJ&E's Police number and gave them the license plate number. They did tell me that going around downed crossing gates is tresspassing on railroad property but that they had to call it into the Joliet Police Department. I don't know wether that was a new person or what, but It's just something that further blurs the lines between what constitues legalities on railroad tracks and platforms and what doesn't.

    Maybe someone who is better educated and informed in these matters can help me figure this one out. I can only go based off of what happened to me.
     
  15. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    I share your frustration. This was probably a civil violation. Usually a civil violation requires a law officer to actually witness the offense before issuing a ticket or making an arrest. Railroad police are law officers in my home state; their status may vary from state to state.
     
  16. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Anyone burn his photos onto disk to keep?

    I am trying to find a reliable software to burn my photos onto CD or DVD disks to relieve my desk top and allow the old computer to run a bit faster.
    Right now it is slower than a dial-up was.

    Windows SE worked for awhile, then started burning the first file, of a list, but finished the rest of the disk!

    Only one photo on a DVD-RW and could not add another file because the rest of the disk was full of finish !!!
     
  17. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Wayne, I use Roxio Media Creator (version 9) which IIRC was included with Windows XP Home Edition. Roxio allows writing of multiple images onto CDs and DVDs, even adding more images at a later time until the disc becomes full.

    I'm sure there are other programs that do this also, but I don't know of them.
     

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