How to make transit even less appealing

Straphangers in cities like New York and San Francisco are downloading transit maps onto their iPods. Seems like a cool way to make traveling on rail transit a little more convenient. But don’t go thinking that transit agencies would celebrate this grassroots innovation:

Transit officials in New York and San Francisco have launched a copyright crackdown on a website offering free downloadable subway maps designed to be viewed on the iPod. is the home of iPod-sized maps of nearly two dozen different transit systems around the world, from the Paris Metro to the London Underground. The site is run by New Yorker William Bright, who said he fell into transit bureaucracy crosshairs after posting a digitized copy of the New York City subway system map on Aug. 9. “I got it on Gawker the day after it started, and the site exploded,” he said. More than 9,000 people downloaded the map, which was viewable on either an iPod or an iPod nano, before Bright received a Sept. 14 letter from Lester Freundlich, a senior associate counsel at New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, saying that Bright had infringed the MTA’s copyright and that he needed a license to post the map and to authorize others to download it.

Bright ran into the same thing with transit officials in San Francisco. Article here. Lately, transit users have had to deal with random searches and some have even had their morning coffees taken away.