Riders fill a Silver Line train from the Wiehle-Reston Metro station on Monday June 6, 2016. Despite advertised wait times of 18 to 20 minutes, this train took nearly 30 minutes to arrive due to single-tracking for repair work. (Photo by Faiz Siddiqui/ The Washington Post)

Monday marked the first regular workday since Metro kicked off its massive SafeTrack rebuilding program, and many of its predicted side-effects came true.

Platforms and trains were crowded. Wait times between trains expanded to at least 18 minutes or more. Highways and some major arteries such as Interstate 66 and Lee Highway in Northern Virginia became parking lots.

The Republic survived. But many Metro riders found their commute even more unpleasant than usual. So we thought that since this is just the beginning of at least a year’s disruption to Metro riders thanks to SafeTrack, now might be a good time to review the rules of civilized behavior on a subway. That’s because even in the best of times, some Metro riders have been known to treat the train like it’s their  home: clipping their nails, using the seats as beds, shaving or applying makeup, blasting their music or manspreading. Then there are those who think it’s okay to spread their germs with every cough or sneeze (cover your mouth!).

Metro might be forgiven for not focusing on rider etiquette, given that it’s been busy literally putting out fires for the past year or so. But other agencies have also taken steps to inform riders about the basic rules of decorum.

In Los Angeles, where people live most of their lives inside cars, local media mounted an etiquette campaign when its Metro opened a new line. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), responding to complaints about seat-hoggers, went further, sending police and security agents onboard. Metro has a list of Rules and Manners.  New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) came up with a noteworthy public awareness campaign a couple years ago, including an anti-manspreading poster that says, “Dude. . . Stop the Spread. Please.”

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency came up with this poster as part of its campaign to remind riders about subway etiquette. (MTA public affairs)

Drawing on these and other sites, including Metro’s (and a couple of our own), here are some pointers:

  • Be courteous, especially to people with disabilities, women who are pregnant, or older riders. Make sure they have access to seats near the doors that are reserved for them.
  • Your briefcase does not need to sit down. Neither does your purse, your gym bag, your lunch, your hat, or your cat carrier. Move your stuff off the extra seat.
  • Allow people to exit before barging onto the train. The quarterback sneak might score a seat but it’s just wrong except on a football field.
  • Move to the center of the car, especially if you’ve got a long ride.
  • Leave the bacon double-cheeseburger on the platform. Also the fries and the shake.
  • Use headphones if you’re playing music. Do not sing along unless you’re actually Beyonce.
  • Keep your pole-dancing and other calisthenics to yourself.
  • Remove your backpack so that it doesn’t become a free-flying punching bag.
  • Manspreading is a crime against at least 50 percent of humanity. Unless you have a medical condition – like a basketball-sized goiter that’s migrated to your inner thigh – try sitting with your legs at an acute angle.
  • Keep your shoes on, and keep your feet off the seats. No one wants to smell your feet or sit on a seat where your dirty feet/shoes have been.
  • And, of course, observe the region’s No. 1 rule of Metro etiquette: Stand right, walk left on the escalators.


–This post has been updated