I am often surprised that commuters don’t get into more fights. The fact that we don’t strangle each other on a daily basis is quite miraculous. But I think our relatively good ability to get along despite the chaos is the result of most passengers following some basic rules of etiquette.

While riding Metro, MARC Train, or VRE, there are some basic guidelines—both written and unwritten—that most passengers know to follow. There are always a few violators, however. Let’s take a look at the kind of rail rider you don’t want to be.

Vestibule Man - MARC this week warned passengers against standing in the vestibule—meaning the area in between the rail cars. The rail service cited safety concerns and said it could impact the ability of riders to get on and off. Sometimes, you may feel like it’s the only place to go when it’s standing-room-only on the train. But the vestibule is not a particularly stable place to stand. Plus, if you’re standing in the vestibule and not getting off at the next stop, you are just in the way of people exiting the train.

Up Against the Edge - Yes, we all want to position ourselves to get near the Metro car door so we can get on quickly. But have you seen these people who stand all the way at the very edge of the Metro platform, even as trains are rolling in? If the Metro conductor has to honk at you to move back, you’re way too close. One shove or wrong step and you are on the tracks, and that is bad news.

Mister Shove - The Metro train is crowded. There is no space left for another body. There’s another train coming in one minute. But you decide you’re going to push your way onto the car. Are you really that anxious to get to work? If you feel the need to physically push a person to get onto a Metro car, re-examine your life.

Mister Temper Tantrum - Every once in a while, you get someone who just can’t deal. Yes, the train car is crowded. Yes, you may have gotten shoved a bit. But that’s no reason to have a hissy fit. We’ve all witnessed complete overreactions on the part of some passengers, and it never makes things better. Commuting is a pain, but for the most part, no one is out to make your life miserable. We’re all in this together, so do your best to chill out.

The Loud Music Man - If you are wearing earphones but fellow riders can still recognize the song and lyrics to what you’re playing, it’s too darn loud.

Mr. Zoned Out - We’re all guilty of this especially in the age of cell phones and iPads. But we need to be aware of our surroundings. If you’re seated, and an elderly person or pregnant women gets on the car, you need to be ready to offer your seat. This is especially true if you claimed a seat reserved for handicapped or elderly passengers. I don’t blame you for wanting to settle in with a good book, but you need to look up once in a while.

The Door Man - We all know you want to position yourself to get off the Metro car quick when your stop comes. But if you insist on standing near the door instead of the interior of the car, you’re blocking everyone who wants to get on and off. Maneuvering around the Metro car is annoying, but you can’t just stand by the door like an immovable object.

The Pole Leaner - There are only a certain number of poles and handles to grab onto on a Metro car. But you have decided to lean your entire body against one, making it inaccessible to anyone else. Don’t be this person. People who position the pole along their butt crack are the most egregious offenders. Remember that poles are for holding, not leaning.

The Quiet Car Violator - If you ride MARC train, you will know that certain cars are designated as “quiet cars” to allow people to have a peaceful ride in to work. Don’t be the guy who’s in the phone conducting business, or listening to music at a ridiculous level.

The Quiet Car Policeman - As much as we don’t like quiet car violators, we may hate the enforcers even more. This is the guy that refuses to even let you take a short, quiet phone call. Sometimes riders need to make a phone call to arrange for pick up of their children, or to let a friend know they are running late. This is not a big deal. Save your righteous indignation for the serious violators.


Can you think of some other “bad rail riders?”


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