The Sexist

How Would Copenhagen’s Flirtatious Bus “Love Seats” Work In D.C.?

In Washington D.C., a great deal of sexual harassment is reported within the city's public transit system. But over in Copenhagen, one Danish bus company is concerned that there may be too few bus-based sexual advances in the city. So, in order to "encourage flirtation, smiles, romance and happiness among the city’s passengers," bus company Arriva has introduced a "Love Seat" program on its Copenhagen buses [Thanks to Ben for the tip!]. From The City Fix:

Starting on May 3, Danish transport company Arriva introduced red-upholstered designated “love seats” on more than 100 buses in Copenhagen to encourage flirtation, smiles, romance and happiness among the city’s passengers, whether they’re happily single, married or still looking for love. The bigger idea—besides being cute—is to get people to leave their cars parked at home and enjoy riding public transportation, as more of a social endeavor.

The buses are outfitted with pairs of red upholstered seats with a sign designating them a "love seat." According to an Arriva spokesperson, the Arriva social experiment is going just swimmingly!:

"You never know what will happen," spokesman Martin Wex told AFP. "We cannot guarantee that you will find the person of your dreams. We are just offering the possibility for people to communicate, to smile a bit more and possibly, to win someone's heart."

The experiment, which according to driver testimony has lightened the mood on buses, is to last two weeks, Wex said. "Some drivers have noticed smiling girls sitting in these seats," hoping for interesting company, he said.

Ah, Europe. Wouldn't it be nice if the biggest cultural problem for your city's public transit system was that too few people succeed in finding unexpected love there? I don't know much about bus culture in Copenhagen, but I imagine that red "Love Seats" would serve an entirely different function in a place like D.C.—they'd inform passengers where not to sit in order to avoid the worst of the harassment. D.C. isn't exactly known for spontaneous smiles, romance and happiness breaking out on our public transportation—but perhaps that guardedness is a product of the prevalence of gender-based harassment here, not a sign that we need to encourage more flirting.

Possible cultural differences aside, I'm not sure that anonymous "driver testimony" filtered through an Arriva spokesperson gives us the best idea of how this program is actually working out abroad. Wex is right that "you never know what will happen" on a Love Seat. What if one person with an interest in "smiles" and "happiness" sits next to someone more inclined to "flirtation" and "romance"? Are passengers who sit in Love Seats considered "asking" for whatever advances come their way? When buses are crowded, will passengers be forced to open themselves to "flirtation"?

So far, the only photographic evidence I've found of the Love Seat in action shows one scowling older gentleman sitting alone—in an aisle seat. Perhaps the most dangerous threat posed by Arriva's initiative is the possibility that it will simply be ignored.

Photo via genelin1221, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Kim Chi Ha

    sigh. everyone around the world is thinkin' bout love. round here, we just want our personal space.

  • Stacey Stardust

    When buses are crowded, will passengers will be forced to open themselves to “flirtation”?

    Heh, this is actually the first thing that came to mind for me (and I'm in Europe, though not Denmark). In the big city in which I live, buses are generally crowded, and the people riding them can basically be divided into people who stare at their feet and keep to themselves and people who are loud and obnoxious - so I don't see it working out here.

  • Schroduck

    Where's the picture at the top from? I certainly hope that no bus or train company is marketing the bench seats by the doors as "loveseats". These seats are typically priority seats for people with disabilities, those with mobility problems, pregnant women, and so on, and encouraging everyone to use them is going to make the seats less available for people who really need them.

    I'm a bit surprised this is coming from Arriva. They're a British company, so I do hope they don't try to import this idea over here.

  • kza

    In theory it's a clever idea. Perhaps if there was a way to know who would welcome advances and who wants to be left alone there would be less harassment?

  • Native JD in DC

    ill sit there.

  • Jiggly Puff

    Piss in one of the seats and sit in the other. Problem solved! No unwanted approaches from strangers and nothing deters a would be harrasser from bothering you than the fresh warm urine.

  • http://backreaction.blogspot.com/ Bee

    They used to have love seats in a cinema (Germany) where I went (basically, the armrest was missing). I don't like buses, but a bus love seat wouldn't convince me to use one either. If I want to cuddle with my husband, I know better places than buses.

  • noodlez

    MY INTERNAL FORESIGHT TELL ME THAT A LOVE SEAT ON METRO WILL PROBABLY TURN INTO A SEAT OF LOVE AS ILLUSTRATED WITH THE STICK PICS LOVE SEAT AD.

    ESPECIALLY WITH BUS DRIVERS PICKING UP FIVE AND DIME HO'S AT THE END OF THE LINE!

  • EmilyBites

    lol @Jiggly Puff

    As to the idea: designated seats for sexual
    harassment?? Buses in the UK are freakin Love Buses already!!

  • Michael Hatfield

    "they’d inform passengers where not to sit in order to avoid the worst of the harassment. D.C. isn’t exactly known for spontaneous smiles, romance and happiness breaking out on our public transportation"

    And maybe we should be more like the Danes, you know not stuck up and snotty to each other.............

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