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Metro etiquette seems obvious, but some need reminding

by Valeria Cori-Manocchio November 17, 2015
Metro etiquette seems obvious, but some need reminding

Here’s some advice for the daily users and abusers of public transit

After my seven-year relationship with the STM transportation services, voicing grievances are long overdue. Even though riding public transit does not require conducting yourself like a member of the royal family, most of us can agree to follow these etiquette regulations.

Maybe you should let others get out of the metro before you pounce for an empty seat that you may or may not even get. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Maybe you should let others get out of the metro before you pounce for an empty seat that you may or may not even get. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Be aware of limited public space

Making myself comfortable on public transit sounds amazing but I know it’s impossible since there are other people who may want to sit down or simply hold on to the communal pole.  I am but one millennial who has reached that empathetic conclusion so I’ll enlighten my peers and other generations as well. To the men and women who love spreading their legs in obscenely wide positions or enjoy leaning their entire torso against a pole—stop. It’s beyond irritating.  If the culprits reading this still think their widespread seating style is acceptable, the next time you take public transit during a busier part of the day, take an observant glance around to see all the other passengers giving you a frustrated look. I’ll undoubtedly be there in spirit.


Avoid talking to someone with headphones on

It’s great that some people feel confident enough to strike up a conversation with the stranger sitting beside them.  It’s not so great when some people try talking to other STM users who are clearly engulfed in their own business—basically, most young adults.  Sometimes—no, most of the time—we really want to escape into our own bubble.  No matter how charming you are, disrupting anyone with earphones is not going to be the start of a pleasant conversation.


Let others get out before you get in

Anyone who uses public transit should have this maneuver mastered—but yet here I am explaining it. To the countless aggravated business people crowding the doors, please take a deep breath and take a step—rather, a few steps back. To the people rushing to squeeze themselves into the metro or bus while that older woman is still trying to exit—chill out. These actions are akin to entering an elevator before the people in the elevator have stepped out. Does trying to push against the current of people lead you to your hellish office any sooner? Are you that desperate for a seat? Or a pole to lean your entire body against?


Do not toss your physical and emotional baggage everywhere

This guideline has two parts and for good reason.

First, I’m empathetic if you are travelling with luggage on public transit—I’ve been in Rome’s overcrowded metro with a suitcase that took up more space than I did. I get it; a weary traveller deserves some extra space to accommodate their cumbersome baggage. But just to be clear, a weary traveller is not someone who enters the metro or bus in a fashionable get-up with a single, oversized tote bag or hipster knapsack that apparently needs its own seat. To you fashionable urbanites on the STM, while you might believe your bag has its own presence, keep it off of other passenger’s seats and out of people’s way.

Second, do not let the convenience of public transit fool you, it’s still the worst place to argue with someone, be it over the phone or in person. I know this because I’ve sat on a bus unable to avoid hearing about a stranger’s friend’s boyfriend’s friend who said whatever to whomever. Yes—I repressed any memory I had about overhearing the conversation. While every passenger on that bus entered as complete strangers, we all exited, completely annoyed by the one man trying to win an argument no one wanted to hear.

To all the guilty parties reading this, I hope my words will slowly teach you  to mind your metro etiquette. If not I’ll gladly write another piece expressing new and aggravating stunts I witness on public transit. Knowing the nature of things, I’ll probably have to.

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