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Public Transportation Etiquette – The Golden Rules

Pinky Advani
Pinky Advani December 16, 2014 Pinky Advani is a former Senior Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP TAKEAWAY: If we all use a little common sense on public transit, we can make the ride more enjoyable for everyone!

So you landed that new job and you’re now taking the bus or train every day – CONGRATS! Hopefully by now you’re feeling comfortable with your daily commute on the bus or train. You have a SmarTrip® card (and it’s registered), you know your schedule and everything is going smoothly. But maybe there are times when you’re frustrated or annoyed with the behavior of your fellow transit riders, right? Clipping nails, loud music, maybe even eating?

When riding public transit, some of that is not allowed (a la Metro rules and regulations); other things come down to being considerate. Together we can make riding a bus or train an enjoyable experience if we follow a few basic rules; I call it Pinky’s Public Transportation Etiquette. Get on board with these rules and then get on board your train or bus.

NoMa-Gallaudet U Metro Station


Passengers exit first

When bus or metro doors open always let the passengers inside exit first before attempting to board. Stand to the right or left of the doors to make room for people exiting. It’s always a nice gesture to allow parents with strollers, disabled and seniors to exit first.

Stand on the right, walk on the left

When using the escalators, please stand to the right to allow people to walk on the left. It’s an unwritten DC Metro area rule, so make sure you’re in the know! Elevators are also available at every Metro Station.

Single seat

One seat per person – it’s a pretty simple rule. If you have a bag or other carry-ons please hold them on your lap or place them under your seat without blocking the aisle. Don’t place them in the empty seat next to you, especially if other riders are looking for a seat.

Share the pole

Don’t lean on the pole on a Metro train or bus. Leave room for others around you to hold on to the pole.

Priority seating

Priority seating is located near bus and metro doors and will be indicated by a sign. You can sit there if it is unoccupied, but be prepared to give up your seat to passengers who are elderly, handicapped or pregnant.

Keep personal business, personal

Refrain from having loud conversations on the bus or train. Not just with your friends or other riders, but also when using your cell phone. Everyone doesn’t need to hear what you’re up to this weekend.

Germ prevention

Now that Winter is here, the common cold is pretty common. Don’t cough or sneeze in your hand just to transfer it to poles, door handles or seats. Cover your mouth with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow.

Be respectful

We talk a lot about being nice to other riders, but remember to be courteous to the driver too. S/He is under a lot of pressure to not only get you to work on time, but also safely. Go on, say hello and smile at your bus driver – I bet they’ll appreciate the sentiment.


And just in case you're not sure, these are definite rule breakers when it comes to ART and Metro transportation services here in the DC Metro area.

The 4 No’s

Metro Rider Cutting an Onion

No Food and No Drinks

Eating and drinking are not permitted on bus or metro.

No Pushing

Do not push people in front of you to board the train or the bus first (even if it’s crowded). Form an orderly line when boarding public transportation.

No Blocking

Do not block the doors when inside the train or bus; this can cause delays, not to mention it’s also a safety concern.

No Loud Music

Keep your music at a low volume and always wear headphones.

So there you have it – Pinky’s Public Transportation Etiquette. Have you been a golden rule offender? If so, what better time to make a change than around the Holidays. Happy riding!

Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/ for Arlington Transportation Partners

Photo Credit: Vancity Buzz

Tags: Bus, Metro, Arlington County


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