For those who don’t know Metro is our major public transportation system for the area consisting of bus and rail (we also have a smaller county operated bus system). I’m sure if you have a public transportation system where you are these will sound familiar.
Since I am a Metro commuter I spend a lot of time people watching. Over the years I’ve filed my fellow commuter-sheep into five categories:
- Tourists – so wrapped up in the “experience” that they are clueless to all that is around them and don’t follow Metro “etiquette” because they don’t know what they are
- The daily commuter – so wrapped up in their smart-phones or tablets they are clueless to all that is around them and don’t follow Metro “etiquette” because they don’t feel they need to follow the “rules”
- Metro employees – who don’t follow Metro “etiquette” because hey they work for Metro and don’t have to
- The Directionally Challenged – trying to go in through the out turnstile or out through the in turnstile and stand there wondering why it won’t open and why the people on the other side are telling them to move. (I lump the people who can’t figure out which end of the paper fare cards go in the turnstile into this category as well – apparently the arrow doesn’t help)
5. And Everyone else who is just trying to stay out of the way of everyone else and get wherever they are going
So what is the “etiquette” for Metro? you might ask. They are surpisingly simple and logical “rules” so at times it is a wonder why they are so hard to follow.
- Escalators: Walk on the left side, stand on the right – and that does not mean stand on the right with your suitcase or packages “standing on the left”
- Escalators: Do NOT come to a dead stop at the top or bottom of the escalator before getting off – this makes you an esca-bump causing all of those behind you who are in motion to run over you
- Elevators: First one on moves to the back of the elevator – yes this will make you the last one off but hey other people need to get on and the elevators only hold 6-8 people depending on what they have with them (suitcases, baby strollers, etc.)
- Elevators: If a person with more need for the elevator is waiting let them on even if you have to get off or wait for the next elevator (baby strollers, crutches, wheelchairs, etc)
- Trains: Please have your fare card out before you get to the turnstile, or at least move to the side so that other people can make the train
- Trains: Remember the doors don’t open back up (like elevators) if you get caught in them so please don’t throw yourself onto the train as the doors are closing. You will get hurt, the train operator may not open the doors immediately, and my favorite, you may confuse the door sensor into thinking its open even after it finally closes resulting in the train being taken out of service—meaning everyone has to get off and wait for the next train!
- Trains: Don’t block the doors; don’t block the aisle; don’t let your children run up and down the aisle or swing from the support bars like monkeys – yes I have seen adults (presumably parents) acctually lift their children up so that they can hang from the overhead bars!
- Trains: Please get up and let people who need to be seated have a seat
- Please just get on the train. Why are you running past all of the cars, each of which have three doors, only to jump in the last nearest one as the chimes ring indicating the doors are closing? I can understand if the cars are full to capacity and you can’t get on, but I am now seeing this with more and more with empty or nearly empty cars. I affectionatly call this “Train Running”
- Buses: Have your fare card ready when the bus pulls up
- Buses: If you KNOW you need to add money to your farecard please have it ready so that the people behind you can get on the bus – especially helpful during rain storms.
- Buses: Don’t get on with a $20 bill and expect someone to have change so you can add $1 to your fare card
- Buses:If you are wearing a backpack please be cognizant of it so that you don’t take off people’s heads as you slam down the aisle
- Public spaces: Please no spitting! (one day I hope for no smoking at the train station bus stops, but that will never happen)
- Remember that cell phones do not come with the “Cone of Silence”, I really don’t want to know what or who you did last night…
The three points of “etiquette” most often ignored are:
- the stand right walk left rule on the escalator,
- the don’t try to get on the train as the doors are closing rule,
- and the give up your seat to someone who really (or legally) should have a seat (pregnant, elderly, disabled…hello!). That last one kills me – its amazing how many people suddenly fall asleep or become completely engrossed in whatever is on their smartphone or in the newspaper when they see someone get on the bus or train who they should by all rights offer their seat to.
Now for a game
Would you guess that that is pointing out the elevator?
Of the people I asked (in a fit of boredom waiting for a late train) more than half did suspect that it meant there was a wheelchair or handicap exit off the platform somewhere but only a handful actually guessed – guessed – that it meant that the handicap exit off the underground platform was an elevator!
My favorite response was that it indicated a ramp for wheelchairs off the platform – did I mention underground?
The funny thing with this particular picture is that the arrow was pointing at an out of service escalator, the elevator was another 50 feet down the platform and hidden behind the escalator construction.
So if you come to visit the Washingotn DC Metro area you’ll know what to look out for.