Metro Etiquette Tips

As any savvy DC professional will tell you, the Washington Metro system is a fast and easy way to get around the city. It’s one of the safest and cleanest public transportation systems in the country. Thousands of people ride the metro everyday and it can definitely be overwhelming for those new to DC (especially during rush hour).

Follow these tips and you’ll be riding like local in no time:

Stand right, walk left. This is the golden rule of the DC Metro system. Observe proper escalator etiquette by standing on the right, allowing others to pass on the left. Commuters are usually moving pretty fast, so if you can’t keep up, move over. When you reach the top, don’t stop immediately. The escalators will not stop running, so to avoid a stampede, step to the side if you need a minute to get your bearings.

Don’t crowd the doors. Allow people to get off the train before you board. When the train stops, stand to the either side of the door and allow passengers to exit the car. If cars are crowded, sometimes it’s smart to be the last person on – you’ll be the first one off!

Move to the center of the car. The automated voice tells you to do this when you board a train, but many people—locals and tourists alike—do not heed her request. Moving to the center of the train allows the area by the doors to remain relatively passable. Clear passage on and off the train equals less tripping and shoving.

The train doors are NOT like elevator doors. Be very careful around Metro train doors. They do not operate like elevator doors; don’t try to keep the door open with your hand or bag. Once the doors close, they will not re-open. Sometimes very full trains can be followed closely by very empty ones. If a train is scheduled to come a minute or two later, it may be worth the wait.

Wait until the train stops before trying to exit. You may notice some riders approaching the door just before the train stops. You will likely then also see these riders losing their balance and knocking into their fellow passengers. The train does not stay in the station long, but you’ll have enough time to exit even if you wait until the train stops to stand. Exit quickly and move away from the train so that others can board.

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