Metro Riders: Do’s and Don’ts on Metro

You can complain about WMATA all you want, but you really have to admit that they’ve SIGNIFICANTLY improved their website in the past six months. Granted, this change was long overdue, but it’s up and it’s finally somewhat intuitive. It’s finally relatively EASY to find information in about three clicks or less on their site now; useful tidbits of information, like Metro Rail Rules and Manners. However, this list seems to be quite outdated. Several bloggers have made their own lists – some are funny, some are angry, some are really good, and some are…well, they’re more realistic than the ones Metro has on its site. Here is an updated version:


  • Use headphones with all audio and video devices, but max out the volume to annoy other passengers as much as possible. Also, turn the speakerphone on your phone up to the maximum level to ensure that everyone hears your awful taste in music and ringtones.
  • Never let passengers get off the train before you board. You are more important than everyone else and it is your job to push through people who have not gotten off the train yet. You cannot afford to wait two minutes for the next train to arrive!
  • Be as rude as possible. Glares and dirty looks are a goal. Seats next to the doors are reserved for senior citizens and riders with disabilities yuppies who sit in a chair in an office all day anyway, and senior citizens and people with disabilities are encouraged to stand.
  • Throw trash on the floors and leave it on the seats. Trash bins and newspaper recycling bins are purely for decoration and are not actually functional.
  • Never give senior citizens and people with disabilities priority when using the elevators. Again, you are more important than everyone.
  • Stand at the most two feet behind the edge of the platform. In fact, stand as close to the edge as possible while waiting for the doors on the train to line up with your position. Cut in front of other people who were clearly in front of you before the train stopped.
  • Ignore all official instructions at all times.
  • Ignore any unattended packages and wait for someone else to notice them.
  • Eat, drink and smoke. People will LOVE YOU when you spill McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce on the floor and the whole train reeks of ranch-bacon-whatever-nasty-thing-you-got.
  • Block the train doors as they are shutting so you don’t miss your train. Note: these doors actually operate like elevator doors and will automatically open when you get stuck in them. Metro is lying to you when they say the doors don’t work that way. Also, make sure to lean on the doors while you are riding the train.
  • Walk on the trackbed. The third rail carries 750 volts of electricity. If you touch it, you’ll become INVINCIBLE.
  • If standing on the train, lean up against a pole so that others cannot hold onto it. No one EVER uses those things anyway.


  • Allow anyone to board before you. That would be rude.
  • Say “excuse me” or any other nicety to other Metro passengers. This is also considered rude.
  • Keep your music quiet – everyone should know what you’re listening to.
  • Walk on the left. Stand on both sides of the escalator.
  • Chew your gum quietly. We must be made aware that you are chewing that new Orbit fruity gum.

And lastly, the cardinal rule of riding Metro rail: talk on your cell phone for as long as possible about the most meaningless stuff that has nothing to do with anything. We DO want to hear about the monotony of your day and your monster of a boss and your plans for the night! Please, tell us everything about yourself that we never wanted to know in the first place.

I’ll link to the memo when it’s officially posted on WMATA’s site, but for now, you’ll have to make do with the unofficial release.

12 thoughts on “Metro Riders: Do’s and Don’ts on Metro

  1. Rob says:

    When I was little (mid-late 80’s-early 90’s) the metro systems was very clean, because back then the MTP still actually enforced the rather draconian rules harshly. If you were caught eating or drinking you would be issued a citation, a hefty fine, and be booted off at the next station. If you vandalized something you were spending the next couple of days in jail. But now people get upset when a teenager gets a ticket for eating French fries in the system. So we are going to end up with a smelly dirty system.

    • caffeind says:

      It could potentially end up being a dirty system, yes, but it will still be better than a subway system that permits riders to eat and drink on the trains. Comparatively, it’s not so bad.

  2. Jerry Nosepicker says:

    1) Talk really loud on your cell phone like your are talking to someone in China via cans connected by string. Just do it.

    2) Flick buggers and bits of fingernail at the person seated in front of you. Then admire the pile of same created and accumulated on the carpet, courtesy of you and months of previous riders.

    3) Change your kids diaper on the seat with nothing underneath. Make sure you avoid cleaning up (no one cares, no one is watching, feces is everywhere anyway), and, for God’s sakes, after you are finished leave THAT seat and sit where it’s sure to be cleaner.

    4) Take a piss in the cubby near the back door of the train. Right in front of the seat. Don’t worry, it already smells like piss. Wino piss. Screw Metro. Don’t you have a right to a good piss?!! Besides, you didn’t start it. Someone’s always pissed there before you. It’s not going to smell any worse. No one’s looking.

  3. My favorite = “Walk on the trackbed. The third rail carries 750 volts of electricity. If you touch it, you’ll become INVINCIBLE.”

    Sadly, there are some out there that would read that and their first reaction would be, “Really? I never new that.”

  4. Charles H. says:

    I once actively listened to a woman’s entire phone conversation on the train. After 25 minutes I felt like I should introduce myself since I already knew so much about her. I didn’t, but at least I didn’t have to wonder how her thanksgiving holiday would turn out with the whole family coming to town.

  5. Howard V. says:

    What’s really sad is that any number of European and Asian subway systems do not restrict eating/drinking on board, and they’re STILL cleaner than DC’s Metro.

    Regrettably, it’s a cultural thing. If you have citizens who are taught from birth to feel some responsibility for their actions, you get a culture that feels ENTIRELY different than DC.

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