Metro Etiquette

by Jackie

It’s no secret that the DC Metro leaves much to be desired. Frequent delays, stuffy cars, and broken escalators makes riding the District’s iron horse quite the interesting experience.  Wait, there’s more. As if the daily dysfunction on the rails wasn’t enough to frustrate commuters, more fare hikes are on the way. YES!  [insert sarcasm here] Despite WMATA’s challenges, there are some steps riders can take to make the trek to and from work more pleasurable:

  • Be polite. “Excuse me,” goes a long way on a crowded train. During rush hour, trying to get out of a packed metro car is like being born.  Mind your manners, and let people know you need to get off.  Not your stop? Step aside and let others out when they need to get off.
  • Keep your hands to yourself. It may seem elementary, but it seems that we may have to go back to basics. Pushing or shoving your way through is a surefire way to start conflict on the Metro. Also, taking advantage of the quick starts and stops on the train to grope someone is unacceptable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to give someone the side-eye for using my body as a means to keep their balance.
  • Keep your music to yourself. Listening to music is a popular way to make the morning commute go by faster, but if you’ve got your tunes all the way turned up it makes others’ commute miserable.  It is annoying to hear the leftover bass through someone else’s headphones or worse, when some riders use their cell phones as modern-day boom boxes.  Stop the Metro DJ-ing and turn the volume down. You know who you are!
  • Hygiene. Yes, being clean is not only healthy for you, but it is a huge favor to others who will share a cramped space with you. A proper shower, deodorant, baby powder, and smell-goods are all tools that will keep you from offending others while your arm is raised to hold onto the overhead bar.  
  • SmarTrip. Only tourists get a pass from me for using paper fare cards.  If you ride the Metro frequently, splurge on the ever efficient SmarTrip card. It costs all of $5 and will allow you to breeze through Metro turnstyles without slowing down traffic to exit and enter a station.
  • Mind your baggage. Make sure that your purses, briefcases, or luggage do not trip or hit any passengers by carrying them in your hand rather than on your shoulder and moving them out of the way.
  • Use your inside voice. No one needs to know what you’re eating for dinner, where you’re meeting your friends later, or the details of your latest breakup. If you’re on your cell or chatting with a friend on the train, remember to keep your voice down and keep the conversation between you and the person you’re speaking with.  Let me also take this opportunity to beg you to not use your speaker phone. I don’t know why this would be deemed acceptable, but I’ve heard some pretty interesting conversations via speaker phone on the train.
  • One fare, one chair. If it’s rush hour, you know that “window seat with nobody next to me” attititude is not going to work. Taking up more than one seat to accomodate your luxury bag or your lazy leg is ridiculous. Do what you want on an empty train car, but when people are going to and from work, it’s just plain rude.

What annoys you most on your Metro commute? What tips do you have to a smoother ride on the rails?


8 thoughts on “Metro Etiquette

  1. One of my pet peeves that I see almost every day is when passengers try to enter the train before everyone is out. I think it’s a classic case of assuming that you have somewhere more important to be (so not true!)

  2. I don’t like when people stand on the left side of the escalator. That lane is the “express” lane; passengers WALK on the left, not stand. I think tourist should be provided metro do’s and don’t list before they decide to take a ride.

  3. For the record, I have officially given up on the Metro train as transportation to and from work. Now, I take the bus because it is far more manageable. But when I did take the train I was annoyed by ALL of these things. Particularly people with earphones playing music so loud the entire train care must start their morning with hard core rap with tons of cussing and thumping. I also despise when people lean against the poles with their entire body so that no one else can hold on to it.

  4. These are all great. It comes down to being aware of how you’re impacting others’ space. Take off the backpack that extends a foot behind you and smacks me every time you shift positions. Do not drape yourself on the poles or seat backs. Sit with your legs together, so that you don’t force me seatmate to curl up into the fetal position to avoid full contact with your body. Stand up and get out of the seat to let me pass, rather than move your knees kind of to the side. Etc.

  5. I agree with Sherria! Tourists make me really upset. This weekend I said” excuse me” to a tourist so I could walk down the escalators. The fool turned back and looked at me if I were crazy and continued to stand to the left! Metro should create messages to be played for tourists that teach them etiquette. Funny thin is though at the smithsonian stop they have Metro employees yelling at the tourists telling them to spread out on the platform and to use all available doors. And they still don’t get it! Se la vie!

  6. Very timely – I just posted this rant on my FB yesterday and I’ll share with A*cute:

    Ok, the train doors are closing so why would you just throw your arm/leg/briefcase/stroller into the closing doors with hopes of it opening?? I’ll never understand this maneuver.

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