Advanced Public Transportation Etiquette

Warriors_still_NYC_subway.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeBy now, I hope all our readers are good with the basic rules of public transportation etiquette. Don’t take up too much room, don’t whack people with your bags, let other people out before you get on, stand up for the sick/elderly/pregnant, move toward the center of the car, etc. I bet you’re all out there taking your subways and buses and trolleys with the best manners. However, I’ve been riding the subway since I can remember, and have seen a number of pretty outlandish things. Here are some that I’ve noticed that I hope you remember not to partake in as well.

  • Don’t sit down and put your feet on a nearby pole, ESPECIALLY if you’re barefoot.
  • Don’t sit on the floor.
  • Don’t set up a baby’s pack-and-play on the floor.
  • Don’t change a diaper on the subway seat.
  • Don’t watch movies on your iPad at full volume with no headphones.
  • Invest in good headphones so I don’t hear your music four seats away.
  • Do not apply hairspray on the subway.
  • Do not apply Victoria’s Secret body spray on the subway.
  • In general don’t wear so much perfume. Some people have bad allergic reactions or are just really sensitive to smell, and when you’re stuck underground in a metal tube next to somebody who has sprayed down every inch of their body it’s just really unpleasant.
  • Go ahead and eat, within reason. If it requires utensils/is hot and smelly, do not eat it, but I’m not one of those people who insists that you cannot bring food on public transportation. Lots of people are busy and work a lot and the bus might be their only chance to eat. Sandwiches, bagels, chips, granola bars, basically anything that can be eaten with one hand and doesn’t smell a lot is good to me.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes.
  • Don’t smoke pot.
  • Don’t vape.
  • Don’t do coke.
  • Like really we can all tell when you’re trying to do drugs in public and nobody is impressed.
  • Don’t be that drunk person who is running barefoot up and down the car and scream-singing to Katy Perry.
  • Just don’t be barefoot, and please explain to me all these people who decide taking their shoes off on the train is a good idea.
  • Take your trash with you.
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7 thoughts on “Advanced Public Transportation Etiquette

  1. Great list, totally agree on the food.

    I was in London and moving to the center of the train is Not Done there. I mean, I assume, based on the looks I got the first and only time I tried it. It seems more like you stay by the doors unless there is absolutely no room left and even then they’re all wishing you’d just waited for another train to come.

  2. DO NOT EAT on the Metro in DC. It is illegal. I wish that it weren’t, because it would be great to be able to have breakfast on my commute to work, but it prevents people from making a huge mess. It is therefore really annoying when people blatantly break that law, especially with food that is particularly fragrant or messy (especially if you yourself are hungry but are obeying the law and you have to smell someone else’s food).
    Obviously if obeying the law is going to cause significant health consequences for you (or a major tantrum from your child), go ahead and eat that granola bar, but maybe a full bag of microwave popcorn that your children are going to spill all over the train floor is not the best option.

    • When I first moved to DC, I thought this law was barbaric but the longer I’ve been here (and used the metro daily), I’ve become more deeply inculcated with the belief that the no-food system is a great system. (Though I totally agree about snacks for angry toddlers or hangry adults.)

  3. What does moving to the center of the car accomplish? Or, rather, how are train cars in most metros laid out such that you *can* move to the center of the car? I have only been on the LA metro and BART, and I don’t remember LA, but on BART, the doors are in the center of each car and when you get on, you quickly move away from the doors to either end of the car so other people can get on behind you. Is that an unusual layout?

    • In New York City, the subway cars have 4 sets of doors on each car. Moving to the center of the car just means moving the the area of standing room in between the doors. Essentially moving away from the doors so others can get on and off, the same as you mentioned.

  4. Two weeks ago, the woman next to me on the train (in Chicago) ate broccoli cheddar soup. She kept lifting it up to her lips and slurping. I almost threw up, it was so revolting. The smell!

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