Pusher (railway station attendant)

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Rush hour at Ueno Station in Tokyo, 2007

A pusher (押し屋 oshiya?) is a worker who pushes people onto the train at a railway station during the morning and evening rush hours.


When they were first brought in at Shinjuku Station, they were called "passenger arrangement staff" (旅客整理係 ryokaku seiri gakari?), and were largely made up of students working part-time; nowadays, station staff and/or part-time workers fill these roles during morning rush hours on many lines.[1] The term oshiya (押し屋?) is derived from the verb "osu" (押す?), meaning "push", and the suffix "-ya" (?), indicating "line of work."

New York City Subway[edit]

A New York Times article from August 8, 1918 mentions the new 42nd Street Shuttle service and guards (and police) trying to direct and push crowds onto the correct trains.[2] By the 1920s, subway pushers in New York City were known worldwide, but were not well-liked due to their reputation as "sardine packers".[3]

Subway pushers in the New York City Subway are depicted in the 1941 biographical movie Sergeant York; George Tobias plays the character "Pusher" Ross, a soldier from New York City. In the film, "Pusher" has to explain his nickname to Alvin York – which he got because he pushes passengers onto the crowded subway cars during rush hours. The story takes place during World War I, which establishes that "Pusher" was a subway pusher in New York City prior to 1918. Also, in the Bugs Bunny cartoon Hurdy Gurdy Hare, Bugs dons a conductor's cap and pushes a gorilla while saying, "push in, plenty of room in the center of the car!", pausing to tell the audience "I used to work on the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central". The cartoon was copyrighted in 1948 and released in 1950.


The city of Madrid introduced in February 2017 "pusher" personnel in the "metro" to cope with increased numbers of passengers. The temporary closing of subway line 8 (connecting with the airport of Barajas and transversing the center of Madrid) due to maintenance works had caused an inusual afflux of passengers in other lines. Subway pushers are called in Spanish "empujadores": they help embarking and make sure wagon doors are properly closed. Comparisons with the Tokyo metro were immediately made.


  1. ^ Mito, Yuko. 定刻発車 (Teikoku Hassha). pp. 113-118. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 2001.
  2. ^ "Drop Shuttle Plan as Subway Crush becomes a Peril". New York Times. August 3, 1918. pp. 1 (continued on page 7). 
  3. ^ Tracy Fitzpatrick (1967). "Art and the Subway: New York Underground". Retrieved 14 January 2015.