Urban Etiquette: Riding the Metro Shouldn’t Be This Painful

by Borderstan.com August 30, 2011 at 8:00 am 2,277 5 Comments

WMATA, DC METRO, Luis Gomez Photos

Of course there are etiquette rules for riding the Metro. Why wouldn’t there be? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mike Kohn. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @mike_kohn.

Here’s a story I think everyone can relate to.

I left work and motored my way to the metro. It took longer than expected, since I had to weave in and out of pedestrians who blocked the entire path and left me almost no way to get around them. I finally got to the Gallery Place-Chinatown station only to find that the red line was suffering from minor delays (which, I’ll admit, is par for the course these days). The Metro arrived and people pushed their way in, holding the door open for their friends despite repeated requests not to do so.

We pulled out of the station and somehow made it through to Metro Center and then to Farragut North. Despite little room for the growing number of passengers, the angry riders shoved through, preventing the doors from closing until we heard the dreaded phrase from the conductor: “Customers we are offboarding this train.” What should have been a 15- to 20-minute easy metro ride turned into an hour of horror.

I threw a temper tantrum in my head. And swore under my breath. Loudly. A lot.

If you’ve never had something like that happen to you, congratulations! You’re either a liar or I’ll be riding the metro exclusively with you from now on.

There is something about taking public transportation that makes people even more insane than they usual are. Let’s try and curb that with some metro advice:

  • Buy a SmarTrip card. Seriously. You’re a resident of Borderstan, so you have no excuse to continue to use paper cards. The only exception to this one is if you have a weekly pass that only comes in the paper format (in which case your responsibility is to write to WMATA and petition them to change it).
  • Don’t hold the metro doors. Yes, your stupid friend didn’t get a metro card in advance, but you can either leave him behind or wait for the next train. Holding the doors will tell the computers there’s a mechanical malfunction, and after everyone gets booted off the train, you’ll be universally hated for making others wait.
  • Move into the center of the car. There is only so much room, and when you won’t let people move in, they hold the doors like I said not to above. And then you’ll get pissed when you have to get off.
  • Hold the pole with your hand and only your hand. It’s bad enough we have to pack in like sardines, but don’t make it worse by forcing me to touch your ass as you press your entire backside into the pole.
  • Let me off the train before you get on. I promise, the train isn’t going to leave you. What will prevent you from getting on is the fact that I walked into you because you crowded the doors rather than standing to the side like a patient person.
  • Walk left, stand right. This is escalator etiquette, but I’m throwing it in. This is D.C., folks. Everyone is incredibly important, so they have to get where they’re going in a hurry. Don’t stand in their way.

Thanks for the suggestions on last week’s post. You better believe I’ll be putting out the word about them in future columns. Have any other metro tips for our District? Anything else driving you crazy lately? Let me know in the comments.


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