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Fixing a Hole

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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In an important A1 below-the-fold New York Times story today, William Neuman looks at the serious crisis facing commuters to New York City: Ripped pants. According to Neuman, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North (which bring workers, shoppers, and Meatpacking District-diners to the city from Long Island and upstate, respectively), have had to shell out $102,009.17 to customers whose pants have been torn by poorly-designed armrests on the M7 trains:

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The armrests are longer and narrower than those on older cars and can slide unobtrusively into a trouser pocket as a passenger sits down—and then snag as he settles into his seat or when he stands up to leave. They are made of a rubbery material that seems to grab onto fabric and not let go, and the armrests also seem to have an affinity for the pockets of coats and suit jackets.
TimesMichelle O'Donnellwrote
Four-tenths of an inch might seem like a picayune matter in an 85-foot train car. Or, to a hand that would otherwise dangle from a longer-than-average forearm, it might seem like a godsend. But to the owners of countless pants, pockets and raincoats that have been torn on the armrests, four-tenths of an inch is a measure of frustration.

As of Thursday, 73 claims for torn clothing had been filed, said Brian P. Dolan, a spokesman for the railroad. He added that the number was a tiny fraction of the 274,000 daily rides.


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