Getting Around: Underground Etiquette

Thursday, June 11, 2009

All this month, the Getting Around series will look at the unwritten rules for traveling in and around New York City, whether it's underground, on the ground, or in the air. Billie Cohen, deputy editor of Time Out New York, is the unwritten rules guru for the series. This Week: Subway Behavior. What are your rules for subway etiquette? What are your tips for being a good subway citizen? Comment below!


Billie Cohen

Comments [248]

David Pollack from Brooklyn, NY

Yes! more bike promotion. Just a few ideas below

* secure bike parking in every building
* low-cost shower facilities for cyclists
* tax incentives for people to ride their bikes
* replace Transitcheck with pre-tax "bicycle" dollars

Sep. 21 2009 10:54 AM
David from Brooklyn

For the passengers:
People who put their shoes on the seats are offensive.
People who plant their shoes on the poles are also offensive.
Men who wear their trousers below their butts are regrettable.
For the MTA:
Take a tour of the Paris Metro. Passengers are directed towards one way exits and entrances, and not to oncoming travelers. Our system is getting worse with the increasing number of passengers. The scheme is due for a new plan. This system is out of date and everyone wastes time.
The G-train platforms (Court Square in Brooklyn) are filthy, yet the MTA employees spend most of their time reading or joking around instead of cleaning. Their job descriptions should be brought up to date, if there is not enough cleaning to do in the trains. This is especially true with the new H1N1 virus and people spitting on platforms. Disgusting! Americans once had a clear sense of hygiene. Where has that gone?

Sep. 10 2009 10:13 PM
Lisa from Brooklyn

Grooming is the bad, and nail clipping is the worst of all.

Sep. 10 2009 09:06 PM
Yvonne and Yvette from Manhattan

We blog on etiquette. One of our pet peeves is how women on trains and buses disengage from their handbags. There bags are usually behind them ending up in the chest or stomach of others and making it difficult to pass them. It's curious when one thinks about all the pick pocketing that takes place. Why would you want your bag behind you and why not consider the space of others. Backpacks are bad news too. Folks, there is life behind you.

Yvonne and Yvette

Sep. 10 2009 10:14 AM
Ruby from Bklyn

Please don't lean vs. the dividers by the door w/out awareness that I am sitting on the other side w/my neck at a right angle 'cause your back is sloping over the side of the dividers. Would that these dividers ALL had that protective glass some have!

Physical therapists should just plant themselves by the unglassed ones & hand out their cards.

Sep. 08 2009 09:32 AM
Spoooon from Brooklyn

Stop picking your nose and then grabbing on to the pole!

You know who you are on the N train.

Aug. 31 2009 08:06 PM

Re: offering seats to pregnant women....

I offered my seat to a pregnant woman, but she said, "No thank you, I'm getting off soon." The guy sitting next to me was too wrapped up in is Blackberry to offer his seat. He did offer it once he was ready to exit the train. Again the woman said, no thanks.

Another man occupied the empty seat next to me. He noticed the pregnant woman and offered her the seat. She said no thanks again.

If you're counting, the seat was offered to her THREE times.

For the rider who might have noticed the pregnant woman standing, but had missed all of this, he/she might that think we were rude for NOT offering a seat.

Aug. 25 2009 10:42 AM

Some of my biggest pet peeves involve public transportation etiquette.

Re: the subway....

1) If you're going to stand against the door, at least have the courtesy to step aside when the doors open.

2) People who try to squeeze themselves in the three inches of space between two seated passengers.

3) If someone is seated in front of the subway map, just say "excuse me" if you need to read it.

4) Um...your bags can't possibly be as tired as that pregnant woman/elderly gentleman/ guy on crutches, etc. But, if you paid for your bags to occupy that space, then I guess it's okay.

To be fair, I do consider situational factors that might not be apparent. Like, if I see someone sitting on the stairs during rush hour. As much as I want to kick the person in the back, I do consider he might be sitting there because he's not feeling well.

Aug. 25 2009 10:09 AM
db from nyc


Who are these ignorant, disgusting folks?


Aug. 05 2009 10:41 AM
Ellen from Brooklyn

Yesterday, during rush hour, I rode the E train from Queens into the city. A child was screaming and crying down the car. After a stop or two, enough people had exited that i could see what was going on. The kid had pooped in his diaper and was freaking out. His pants were pulled down around his ankles and he was standing. His mother stood there and finally picked him up and proceeded to change his diaper right in the faces of the people sitting there. They looked like they were going to puke. She said nothing to anyone. Then, she left the dirty diaper and the stroller and came down the car w/ her kid (still crying) and sat next to me.
I felt very sympathetic towards her (and the kid's) situation....however, I think it might have been a bit more considerate for her to have gotten off the train (it was during rush hour and crowded) and changed the kid on the subway platform, discarded the diaper and then continued on the next train.
Difficult situation. Very weird.

Jul. 30 2009 11:22 AM
CJ Franks from LIC, Queens

Jan van Lier, I completely second your remark:

"As for subway etiquette, I think etiquette in general is on the decline. If only living in a highly populated city did not instigate an 'every man for himself' attitude."

Etiquette in New York in general, on the streets, subways, etc. is atrocious! It seems to stem completely from the fact that each person charges ahead as if their time/destination are the most important in the world. As a fairly recent NY transplant, I've noticed myself completely adopting this mindset, more out of necessity than anything.

If only somehow we could adopt a new attitude, en masse, that was more along the lines of "How can I better someone else's day today?"

Jul. 28 2009 10:35 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

no strollers, no coffee, no noise, game playing electronic contraptions!

Men and women keep your knees together, stop hugging the poles, no blocking the doors and no cell phones.

Jul. 23 2009 10:52 AM
crystal from Brooklyn from Bklyn NY

1) NO eating or drinking in the subway car.

2) Remove backpacks hold them down towards the floor.

3) Don't block the doors & don't push in front of someone who was on the platform before you got there.

4) STAY TO THE RIGHT on stairways and walkways



Jul. 21 2009 07:07 PM
Sarah Van Arsdale from Manhattan

Since having surgery and leaving the Kingdom of Well for the Kingdom of Ill, with my cane as a passport, I've noticed how remarkable it is that often the entire car is filled with people with disabilities, most of them invisible. This must be the reason no one offers me a seat, even though I brandish my cane and look around desperately. Eventually, feeling humiliated, I ask.

So my number one: if you can stand without toppling over or incurring pain, offer your damn seat to the person with a cane, the frail elderly, the pregnant lady.

If you want to see an illustration, and read a hopeful story from the A train, see my web log on this:

Jun. 25 2009 12:11 PM
RJ Schreiner

where on north shore? which neighborhoods? streets? I lived in thompkinsville for 11 yrs. the only neighborhood I've heard mentioned is port richmond. is that the only neighborhood affected?

Jun. 19 2009 11:38 AM
Gordon Rothman from Brooklyn

I wanted to share my pet name for a guy who sits on the subway with his legs spread to take up three seats:

a knee jerk

Jun. 18 2009 06:16 PM
Linda Griggs from Lower East Side, Manhattan

No gum popping.

FYI, when people chew gum with their mouths open they look dim witted and slatternly.

I should make a compilation video tape.

Jun. 18 2009 02:33 PM
Doug from Connecticut

I was very happy to hear the comment about walking on the right (by right I mean both correct and directionally) side of a sidewalk. Whether it is in Manhattan or in a relatively quaint little Connecticut town, people should learn to walk the same way they drive, in terms of staying to the right and waiting until the flow of traffic going in the other direction subsides before trying to turn left (assuming that you are following my first rule and walking on the right side) into a store, restaurant or wherever you are so hurriedly going.

Jun. 18 2009 12:25 PM
another intrepid rider from Queens from Richmond Hill, Queens, NYC

Implement those fines!!!!!!!!!!!

I just heard that there are fines for people blocking free moving on trains (e.g., standing smack in middle of door).
There should be transit/ police visiting cars to implement those fines. and riding the A or J train will be more tolerable.
Also, cut out the standing on the station stairs, holding a conversation (usually into a cellphone).

Jun. 14 2009 04:21 PM
parent from Washington Heights

Don't tell me how to parent on the train or anywhere in NYC! So annoying. I don't need your help deciding when to put a hat or jacket on my kid! Take care of your own kids or keep it to yourself.

Jun. 13 2009 02:22 PM
commuter from Washington Heights

I agree with the guest's (Billie) comment that clipping fingernails in public is disgusting. Please keep your hygiene time in your own bathroom. As far as simply annoying & impolite: enough with the gum popping! Ugh.

When my wife was pregnant, she said that the most reliable people who'd give up their seat to her on the train were Hispanic men and older women. Everyone else just sat there.

Jun. 13 2009 01:21 PM
Hilary from Manhattan

No religious proselytizing. Don't tell me I'm going to hell. Why should I have to listen to you scream?
Selling anything else is fine with me.

Jun. 12 2009 12:47 PM
LCD from Jackson Heights

1. Parents, please supervise small children on the subway when they are running around and kicking in a moving car. My legs are not a cheap karate class for your kids.

In addition, if you are going to let your child stand up on a subway seat to look out the window of elevated trains, please hold on to them. What are you going to do if the train stops short and your kid goes flying.

If your child is sitting while turned around to look out the window, please don't think its cute that your child is kicking the person sitting on the other side of them.

2. Learn simple math. If there are three seats and two people take up two and a half of seats in body mass, don't think your fat butt can fit in half a seat. If you need to wedge, push or can only fit into the front of the seat, don't sit there.

Jun. 12 2009 10:31 AM
another intrepid rider from Queens from Richmond Hill, Queens, NYC

Implement those fines!!!!!!!!!!!

I just heard that there are fines for people blocking free moving on trains (e.g., standing smack in middle of door).
There should be transit/ police visiting cars to implement those fines. and riding the A or J train will be more tolerable.
Also, cut out the standing on the stairs, holding a conversation (usually into a cellphone).

Jun. 12 2009 02:59 AM
another intrepid rider from Queens from Richmond Hill, Queens, NYC

Number 1: make it an actual misdemeanor to stand and block the subway doors. On many lines (A,C, yes, F, no) it is hard to enter the car without having to squeeze around people that do not budge from their spot. These riders often will forego a free seat for a spot in front of the door. Often, people will enter a car and immediately stop walking, while standing in the path of in-coming riders.

Actually, drinking coffee is essential for some of us to stay awake on the commute. (We bring cups with the sippable covers.)

Jun. 12 2009 02:44 AM
rivo trizza from New York City

Some have made comments about "man-sitting" and surely that is to be checked.

Meanwhile there is a also "woman-poking".
Whence women with pointed footwear sit with one leg over the other with the pointed fronts of their stylish footwear, oh so fashionably forcing the standing passengers to stay away uncomfortably from the overhead bars.

Why, I wonder has this not be addressed?!!!

Jun. 11 2009 10:29 PM
J.M.Monroy from micro-economics class

In order for any of the rules of etiquette to work, we need to change the way that people think of the subway as place/vehicle only, for the idea of the subway as a formal, communal space. We need stop thinking of ourselves just as commuters on a moving wagon, and start thinking of ourselves as a kind of copilots of a community shuttle. Copilots have to be alert (no more loud noises, no more food, no more nail clipping), copilots have to sit straight (no more spread legs), copilots have to cooperate with the rest of the crew (no more blocking doors/escalators thinking only about yourself),and finally, copilots have to make sure that everybody is safe (no more pole-hugging). If we all act as copilots , and treat our daily commute as a mission to a new frontier (etiquette-land) then we all can say "mission accomplished".

Jun. 11 2009 07:36 PM
Jason from brooklyn

I think they should make trains less crowded.

Jun. 11 2009 07:26 PM
lizzie from brooklyn

To Voter from Brooklyn:

I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant now and have found that ONLY women offer me a seat. I have never had a man offer me a seat yet on the subway.

Jun. 11 2009 06:22 PM
Sarah from Manhattan

1. I'm not going to take off my backpack. I carry a backpack because my stuff is HEAVY. If I take it off in a crowded subway car, I won't be able to get it back on without hitting someone. And no, I can't carry it in one hand through the crowd until I get off. If it was that light, I wouldn't need a backpack. It takes up the same amount of space on the floor as it does on my back, and no one is going to trip on it or step on it if it's on my back.

2. Don't block doorways. Walk on your right, especially in stairwells. In a stairway with a center handrail, one side is up and one side is down.

3. Escalators: Stand on the right, walk on the left. And keep walking when you get off--the escalator doesn't stop just because you did.

4. For the love of whatever deity, BATHE. And not in cologne/perfume.

5. Children don't need seats on the subway. They're young. They aren't working all day on their feet. If they're too old to sit on your lap, they should stand. If you MUST use a stroller on the subway, don't ride during rush hour.

6. Don't lean on the center pole. And realize that many people can't reach the overhead bars. Share the vertical poles.

Jun. 11 2009 05:36 PM
lisa from Brooklyn

nail clipping - absolutely the worst, followed up closely by pole leaning and hugging. and people - often adolescent girls - talking too loudly. do we really care?

Jun. 11 2009 05:01 PM
Maria from Brooklyn

If you get on a crowded train where a seat has just opened up, do not push people aside or crawl underneath them to grab the seat. That seat does not belong to you! It belongs to the person who happens to be standing near it. It is only yours if it is freely offered to you.

Jun. 11 2009 03:17 PM
tracy from east harlem

please....keep your long hair off my bare shoulder....this is my summertime subway pet peeve.

Jun. 11 2009 03:12 PM
Mike from Inwood

Another note: 20 years ago, when I was much healthier, I offered my seat to a prgnant woman only to find she was a woman with thin arms and legs with a gut! It was not a happy time.

Jun. 11 2009 02:03 PM
Mike from Inwood

Also, while I am not old and seemingly healthy, I wear thick, knee-high, compression stockings (even in the summer heat) to prevent blood from pooling in my feet and ankles. I also have arthritis in my left hip. I chose to live at the end of the subway line so that I'd always get a seat, where housing is also more affordable. I've arranged my work hours to avoid rush hour. If I stand from home to work, I will be barely able to walk when the ride ends. I sit next to the door, so I don't have to make my way through a crowd at my destination, always with my bad hip facing inward to avoid collisions with people entering and exiting. Pregnant women and others who think they deserve my seat: You cannot tell who is disabled. This is no joke: I once had one dark-skinned Carribean woman scream at me because I failed to get up and help her move her large bags onto the train. (She knew it was because I was White and did not consider Black people to be people) She continued for 20 minutes, getting louder and louder when I failed to respond, until the conductor came out of his compartment to see what the trouble was. While that's an extreme example, minor accusations of inconsideration are not uncommon.

Jun. 11 2009 01:58 PM
Mike from Inwood

As far as leg positioning: I make sure my knees are no wider apart than my shoulders. Even obese men are somewhat V-shaped. If a man's legs are tightly together, he will wobble from side to side with every lurch of the subway. Many people vent about subway behavior because they cannot express the frustration they feel in other parts of their lives, kind of like the public transportation equivalent of 'road rage'.

Jun. 11 2009 01:47 PM
Mike from Inwood

I've been on the subways for over 20 years. 20 years ago, when I was much more sensitive to rude behavior on the trains, fewer people blocked the doors on empty cars. I think it began as a way to make people who felt powerless feel powerful. Very sad, really. Like jaywalkers who saunter across the street just to prove they don't have to move out of the way of traffic. Unfortunately, this behavior has now become the norm even among those who do not feel powerless. Recently, I've even seen women sit with their legs apart to occupy two seats. It seems the crowd always sinks to the lowest level of behavior.

Jun. 11 2009 01:42 PM
Mike from Inwood

Wmen who could easily fit onto one seat that take two by putting their purse on the seat next to them instead of on their lap. On bench style seating they seem unaware that they're creating stress at the other end of the seat.

Jun. 11 2009 01:36 PM
stu in nyc

Unfortunately, the people who could use this advice do not listen the this program or read these posts...

Jun. 11 2009 01:17 PM
Office Worker from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

#205, As you can see, DOZENS of people are complaining about "man sitters." It's not about YOU. My comment is directed toward a lot of these people.

I do understand the difference between sitting with some space between one's legs in a comfortable position and spreading waaaaay the hell out. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm angry at the complainers who suggest that men should close their legs entirely. That's not realistic. Every last one of these commenters seemed to have women's names...they are women. Knowing men is not the same as BEING a man, 205.

All I'm saying is that I'm not pressing my legs together as though there's nothing between them. You and many of the other commenters to this post should be mindful of the fact that we have physical differences.

Like I said: happy medium.

Jun. 11 2009 01:12 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I’ve been reading some of these, but way too many… Almost all are commonsense and makes me wonder if only people with good subway etiquette listen to Brian, but two notes for the ladies: 1. It’s rarely comfortable for a man to sit with his knees together… there’s stuff down there and I’m sure you don’t want to be beside the guy pawing at it to get comfortable (yes, we really do need to adjust down there too) But a spread anything further than one’s shoulder width is unnecessary and unacceptable. (and for women, if you’re going to spread in a skirt… one word… panties) and 2. I always ask pregnant women if they rather sit or just automatically offer the seat, but why is it women rarely if ever offer their seat to a pregnant or elderly woman?

Jun. 11 2009 12:50 PM
Sari from Brooklyn

I called in to the show this morning and said that I had written a subway etiquette list several years ago. I used to post it on trains I rode. This is my list:

1. If you pay for one seat, only use one seat.
2. Clip your nails at home.
3. Carry tissues. Don't sneeze into books, newspapers, your hands, or onto other people.
4. If you are FAT (and you know who you are), sit on aisle seats so your excess can surge into the aisle. Don't squash skinny people.
5. Men: KEEP YOUR LEGS TOGETHER!!! You won't squash the family jewels and you will free up some valuable real estate.
6. If your personal stereo is loud enough for other people to hear, it is not personal enough. Turn it down!!
7. Backpackers' Newsflash: THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE ON THE TRAIN!! Please don't back up or lean back without being aware of your surroundings.
9. "Please," "thank you," "excuse me," "may I help you with your stroller or heavy packages?" are still valid phrases in our "civilized" society. Try them on for size.
10. Don't put wet umbrellas, bags, packages, cups on empty seats. There are few enough seats without empty ones being made wet, dirty and unusable.
11. Don't stand in front of doorways, block narrow passages, sit in stairwells or disrupt the flow of traffic.
12. Let people out of trains before you get in. There won't be room for you if people don't get out.
13. Perfume is meant to be subtle. Don't bathe in it.
14. Bathe!!
15. Take your trash with you when you leave the train. There are trash receptacles at every station.
16. Don't cut in line.
17. Don't push people with your body or your bags.
18. No one else wants to hear you chew your gum, cud, tobacco...

Jun. 11 2009 12:33 PM
ann hawker from 255 W 95th Street, NYC, NY 10025

Please don't sit with your legs crossed, not only does it take up twice as much room in the aisle, it means your shoes brush against and thereby soil the clothes of people trying to get past.

Jun. 11 2009 12:26 PM
Anonniemuss from East Village, NYC

Thanks for your patronising response Mr. Office Worker from Fort Greene, Brooklyn to my comment about man-sitting but all my life I have known men and have lived with men who would never in a million years sit like that, and I do see plenty of men on the subway who don't sit like that. If you have to consciously remind yourself every single time you sit in public not to take up as much space as humanly possible, perhaps a meditation practice could help you develop greater self-awareness!

Jun. 11 2009 12:24 PM
Zak from Washington Heights

Women who sneer at me for being a man who is sitting. I give up my seat for the elderly, for pregnant women, for people with injuries and disabilities, even just to be nice if I'm getting off the train in a stop or two. Still, I get constant glares from young, able-bodied women for sitting. Femininity is not a disability, you don't DESERVE a seat by mere virtue of being a woman.

Jun. 11 2009 12:19 PM
Robert from Manhattan

The Wide-stance young males who deliberately take up 2 seats are clearly on a machismo trip of intimidation and and childish display. Nobody buys the act, boys.

I was on a short trip uptown once and saw a jerk pulling this stunt on a full train. I had no need to sit, but I gave him a butt-first no-look sit-down. He folded up like a little girl and was obviously humiliated. What a twit.

Jun. 11 2009 12:16 PM
Sharee Smith from Red Bank, NJ

I hate it when passengers take up more than one seat on a crowded train! If it's standing room only, you should be considerate and place your bags on the floor!

Jun. 11 2009 12:13 PM
lizzie from brooklyn

I agree with everything listed so far and have a few to add. In addition to nail clipping, I have seen people flossing their teeth on the train. This is a definite no no. Also, I am 7 1/2 months pregnant and I would say about 90% of the time no one offers me a seat. Last week, a perfectly healthy, non-pregnant woman who was absorbed in her Kindle actually pushed in front of me and took a seat I was headed for! Lastly, don't light up a cigarette on your way up the stairs to the sidewalk, I don't want to second hand smoke!

Jun. 11 2009 12:10 PM
jtt from jackson heights

some of you guys are really just too picky to be on mass transit.

i've been riding the subways for a long, long time, and only seen a guy floss once!

Jun. 11 2009 12:08 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, yeah, on escalators: In my local station, there are 3 very long & narrow (as in not much room for passing) escalators, usually w/2 running up & 1 running down (yes, even during the AM rush). Often people on 1 of the escalators are standing still & those on the other are walking up, but about half the time (& it feels like more!) someone gets on the "walking" escalator & stops, blocking the way for people who want to get out of the station sooner. If you want to stand still on the escalator, why don't you get on the one where everyone's *already* standing still?

Jun. 11 2009 12:08 PM
Glen Ganaway from Manhattan

Favorite Pet Peeve.
1. No soliciting/No begging, preaching, playing instruments, singing, dancing, acrobatics etc (if you're caught, you should be fined and immediately escorted out of the subway.)
2. No standing in the doorway (or I get to plow into you like you're not there).
3. No littering. (if caught fined and escorted out immediately)
4. Do not take up more than one seat. If your butt takes up more than one seat, your fare is doubled. If your bag is on the next seat, or you will not close your legs, you get a fine and escorted out of the subway immediately.
5. Strollers and bikes require a fare and can only be admitted on the last car. Or you and your stroller and/or bike are escorted immediately out of the subway.

Oh! and please take the free dailies hawkers out too.

More police officers handing out fines and escorting people out of the subway.

Jun. 11 2009 12:07 PM
anon from Staten Island

With all due respect to those who are complaining about "standers" on escalators, um..isn't that the whole point? If you want to manually climb, take the stairs. Your need for haste is not a valid excuse for pushing through those who are using escalators as intended.

Jun. 11 2009 12:07 PM
Phil from Queens

The subway fare needs to be raised to at least $3.00 per ride. It is high time that mass transit riders pay the real cost of the ride. After all aren't we a community? Aren't we all in this together? Don't we want to support high Union salaries? Aren't we filled with hope and change? Well, use your change and pay the real fare and hope it doesn't go higher! Signed a driver who spends at least $50 a day to drive into the city in air conditioned luxury in a gas guzzling SUV while listening to NPR between traffic reports. And PS -- thank you Barry (Obama a/k/a Soetoro) for wrecking the economy. It's all on you now, Barry. The commute is much shorter now for the few of us who still have jobs. We're all getting better mileage, too. Can you say Democrat Party made economic catastrophe??? LOL

Jun. 11 2009 12:06 PM
Tom S. from Pearl River, NY

Don't sneeze into your hand and then grab hold of a bar or pole! Nasty.

Jun. 11 2009 12:04 PM
Craig from Brooklyn

When waiting for the train on the platform, be aware of those who were there first. Do not come walking down the platform just as the train is coming in and then cut in front of all of those who have been waiting longer, just so you can get a seat. It is just rude and selfish.

Jun. 11 2009 12:04 PM
Kevin Medina from New York, NY

1) Let People Off First!

2) No Leaning or Hugging Poles!

3) Take off the backpack!

4) Do not eat smelly food (the bagel is fine, however, as long as you're neat)

5) Don't act obnoxious. I hate the crowds of teens and young adults who laugh loudly, talk loudly, and horse around (this is really bad on the LIRR at night and on weekends).

6) Pregnant women, injured or disabled people, the elderly, and parent(s) with their infants should have seat priority.

7) Throw away your trash in the EFFING TRASH CAN!

8) Move to the center of the car if it's crowded

9) Do not rest the soles of your shoes on the center pole, children touch that! And they're the ones that are prone to put their fingers in their mouth!!

10) Don't sit on the stairs

Jun. 11 2009 12:04 PM
Ivey from Brooklyn

It's funny, I think this is a great discussion but I think WNYC listeners typically care about the community and aware of subway etiquette. Is there something we could all do to increase awareness of our less aware neighbors?

Jun. 11 2009 12:03 PM
Rachel from Manhattan

I have a six month-old baby, and I am continually amazed at how many people go out of their way to help me by giving me a seat in the subway or carrying my stroller for me. One guy was coming UP the stairs to the street and saw me preparing to come down into the 103rd street station. He turned around, carried my stroller back down, and even swiped his own card to get me through the turnstile and down the stairs to the platform. When I was pregnant, people regularly gave up their seats to me. To all of you out there who do things like this, THANK YOU!

Jun. 11 2009 12:02 PM
db from nyc

... NO food on the subway! Unless you like finger nail clippings in your Micky D's!

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
Jennifer from Manhattan

When boarding the train, we should all move to the center-most part of the car, and not hover the door even if our stop is next. That space is nearly always LESS crowded, even at rush hour.

When train is crowded, it makes it SO much faster and easier if anyone close to door, or in the path, gets OFF OF train to let people off (Just like on elevators!).

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
Carol from Brooklyn

Re the leg spreaders: I usually have a large bag (WNYC gift), and I put that down between my leg and his. If he doesn't get the idea, I move it roughly (there is always a book inside) so that it pushes him back.

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
Annette St. John from Rahway, NJ

Love this discussion about subway etiquette. It's sorely needed. Unfortunately, I fear the people who need to know what is proper behaviour are not the ones listening to the show. My pet peeve, (or as George Carlin once said "psychotic hatreds") are people who will not move further into the train and block the doorway. Makes me nuts!! Thanks again for bringing up the topic -- please do it again sometime soon.

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
db from nyc


What kind of uneducated SLOBS do this!!!

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
Mike from Inwood

The speaker complains about people who are too big for the seats? Perhaps the seats should not designed for someone who is 5'6". No matter how much I weigh, my shoulders (size 52) will always be wider than a seat. I'm only 6' tall. Many people are much larger. Maybe the speaker should take a taxi.

Jun. 11 2009 12:01 PM
muri from ny

Oh... also... No PDA! Get a room.

Jun. 11 2009 12:00 PM
muri from ny

I hope I get the chance to plop onto the lap of the person who suggested fat people sit on the outside. SHe can kiss my...

Jun. 11 2009 11:59 AM
Smokey from LES

Please don't paint your fingernails on the train - it's toxic!

Jun. 11 2009 11:59 AM
Vinny from Manalapan,NJ

Ha, you said New York $hitty.

Jun. 11 2009 11:59 AM
Carol from Brooklyn

As a white-haired old lady (76) in perfectly good health, I get a bit annoyed when people offer me their seat, ALTHOUGH I ADMIRE THEIR GOOD MANNERS AND SAY NO THANK YOU WITH A BIG SMILE.

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM

If yuou switch your backpack from the back to the front, or even hang it off one shoulder facing front, this will alleviate the backpack problem.

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
brian from brooklyn

No preaching/proselytizing

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
John from The Bronx

I agree with most of what has been said before:
no blocking the doors, no guys sitting in full childbirth position, no preachers or panhandlers.

I would add one for the subway conductors: when the express and the local trains arrive at the same time on opposite sides of the platform, please do not slam the doors in the face of passengers who are trying to make the connection. I can understand that this is sometimes unavoidable when there is another train immediately behind the one leaving, but often many minutes go by before the next train arrives.

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Kate + Krissa from commute from BK to Midtown

We LOVE the subway announcers who spice things up a bit on the ride. Singing, comedy routines, morning greetings etc. are all welcome in our eyes!

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Lonnie from Brooklyn!!!

Elevated Train Phone Rule:

If you get a Phone call from a Nasty Ex, or you are a person having a VERY bad day.

The Train is the one place where you can use the solitude to compose your elan and regain your center.


All it does is raise your BloodPressure and EMBARRASES you further.

Compose yourself, and take your personal troubles HOME where you can deal with them PRIVATELY.

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Paul Paulson from Hoboken

Major pet peeve: people trundling up the stairs texting away in a haze while people try and get around them.

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Jeremiah from brooklyn

The people who have poor subway etiquette probably don't listen to WNYC. Is there a way to create awareness through an etiquette ad campaign?

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Haley from Astoria

Only use the few elevators in subways if you must. Those of us with stroller or in wheel chairs have to wait FOREVER to get one and then it's packed with able-bodied people. (Why anyone would want to use subway elevators unless essential is beyond me!)

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
SH from manhattan

My bf and I always say,

nothing meaner than a pole leaner!

Jun. 11 2009 11:58 AM
Lillian Fimbres from New York

1. How about removing your back pack in a subway car so other standing passengers don't get bowled over. It also creates more shoulder room.
2. Letting people off first by standing aside as comuters enter.
3. People crossing their legs so people have to brush against the dirty shoes.
4. Men taking more room by spreading their legs apart. Please guys, I thought your legs were stronger, thus enabling you to close your legs.
5. Hogging the pole by leaning against it, so no one can use it.
****6. Men who in the summer wear tank tops, wear cheap deordorant or none at all, and hang from the the top bar wih those clumpy armpits dangling over seated passengers. Yuck!

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
Peter from jackson heights NY

Surprised no one has yet mentioned (on air, tho' perhaps on the board) the many people who get on the train without letting others off first.

Rule off thumb: let people off the train before barging on.

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
Ivey from Brooklyn

A few years ago I was riding the train around 9:30 pm with two other friends, there was about six inches between the two of us, and three older women got on the train, I was 20 at the time, two of the women took seats across from us and the third woman sat between the two of us, but there wasn't enough room, she sat in my lap.

If you need a seat ask, don't sit on someone.
I spent the ride coughing on her and digging my elbows into her side.

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
muri from ny

No nail clipping or teeth flossing. (When I see someone do that I take out my cell phone and take a pic with a camera. making sure that they see it. Stops them cold about half the time.) (Yes, only half the time.)

Take off the backpack!!!!!

I can hear what's spilling out of your earphones! Turn it down, bub. (And anyone who refers to what they're listening to as "my music" should be punched in the mouth unless they wrote or recorded it!)

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
Jp from NYC

Absolute pet peeve: the people, seems like always guys, who stand in front of the subway door, their back always to the outside, and don't move even when huge crowds of people are trying to get on the train. Worse, when they're actually getting on from the platform and come to a dead stop just inside the door. How can you (those of you who do this) not realize how rude that is?

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
Mike from Inwood

People and subway workers are often the people crowding the doors.

Jun. 11 2009 11:57 AM
Erin from Brooklyn

I am eight months pregnant. Last week, on a Brroklyn-bound A, a group of 4 thirtysomething men (who were taking up 6 seats) joked amongst themselves that I was a second class citizen and not deserving of a seat!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
John from New York, New York

Don't stand in front of the subway door. This segment follows one on traffic flow, and that's no coincidence. Standing where people need to walk clearly slows down everyone.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Gerry Lesk from Manhattan

Don't take up more than one seat on the subway.
This especially applies to young men - often I
see high school-age guys taking up more than one space by spreading their knees as far apart as then can. This is another instance of the amazing obliviousness to others here in
one of the largest cities of the world.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Gerry Lesk from Manhattan

Don't take up more than one seat on the subway.
This especially applies to young men - often I
see high school-age guys taking up more than one space by spreading their knees as far apart as then can. This is another instance of the amazing obliviousness to others here in
one of the largest cities of the world.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Even if you think you're the last person waiting to get in the subway door, don't stand in the doorway--someone might want to get on after you. This has happened to me several times when it just doesn't occur to the person ahead of me that somebody else needs to get in the door & they're blocking the way!

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Mike from Inwood

My peeve: Teens who insist on having 'show time' and then perform acrobatics on trains, especially when the train is not really uncrowded. Sometimes they even insist that people move to make room for them. This is so annoying that I think it should be a law enforcement issue.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Tom from UWS

How are we going to get subway etiquette when we have nearly no etiquette left anywhere?

Yesterday's discussion on audience etiquette on SoundCheck is just one more example.

The average performance of people today is piggish. Period.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Susan Finch from Washington Hts.

Remember you share the space. Take care of each other.

There's a great conductor on the A train who says: "Welcome to the downtown A train Experience!" . This shakes us out of our thoughts and suddenly we are actually aware of each other...smiling.
Thank you

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Olivia from Bronx

When people interpret the space below the bench seats as a garbage can.

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM

I carry a backpack a lot and I use it because what I'm carrying is heavy and I can't use one shoulder to carry it or my back hurts and putting it on the floor is just gross and dirty...

Jun. 11 2009 11:56 AM
Morgan from Brooklyn, NY

no nail polish!
no littering (includes sunflower seed shells, chicken bones)
no spitting (on or off the track)
no nail clipping
move to the center of the train (worse during tourist season)
no hugging the pole
one seat per person

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
florion from NY

Get closer to the door before the train stops, so you do not step on others to got off the train, and a good suggestion would be for the train conductor to say on what side of the train is the next platform.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
harlem from manhattan

I see people offer up seats all the time (A line uptown). just last nite a guy got up so I could sit since I was wearing high heels.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
Phineas from Manhattan

Subtle subway rule. In the summer, don't be the jackass who opens the rectangular subway window in the car when the A/C is not working or is working poorly. All that accomplishes is bringing in the hot, dank, pestilent, toxic air from the tunnels. However, there is no duty to close an open window, as it lets prospective riders know that a certain car is as hot as a kiln so they can board the next cooler car on the platform.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
bob from NYC

in every station ATM should set up a school on topic how to use the headphones. guys buy inside ear headphones for 30-40$ and wear them left to right, so almost entire sound goes the wrong direction. waste of sound, energy, money not to mention that one looks like an idiot. wear your sneakers left to right. b

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM

Stay to the right on the stairs.

Especially if you're going up and the person going down is rushing to the train that's about to leave.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
Tim from Astoria

I agree with the idea that cutting your fingernails on the subway is disgusting,
I once saw an off duty, but in uniform, MTA employee doing this….I was not impressed.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
Jessie from Manhattan

don't lean with your entire body on the poles that are needed for holding on to!

hair flipping! if you see someone standing right behind you, is it really necessary to flip your hair at that moment, don't you realize it's rude and going into somebody else's mouth?

and the personal grooming this is disgusting, nail clipping is a bathroom activity people, nobody wants your nail bits flying around hitting them in the eye!

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
austin from brooklyn

Bicycles on the train could be my number one peeve. It's a bike. Ride it.

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
Helene from Queens

I concur with all the comments about men (most of the time) sitting with their legs spread apart which I find highly annoying and rude. As to the comment about it being the natural way of sitting, I disagree. I noticed that I know many people from Latin American and Europe who sit with their legs crossed and I don't remember seing any American (whatever their ethnic origin, born and raised here) doing so. Maybe there is a latent machismo with men thinking that sitting cross-legged is too womanly?

Jun. 11 2009 11:55 AM
Tiffany from Morningside Heights

1. Standing in front of the turnstyle looking for metrocard.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
alex from greenpoint

Please step all the way into the subway car!

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
huzzahs from brooklyn

Eating on the train is so rude. You don't know whether someone around you could be allergic, hungry, sick, or anything else. Even if the food doesn't have a pungent odor, there will be waste afterwards on the floor or greasy poles/seats.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
Carol from Brooklyn

If rider insists on standing in front of door, he should GET OFF when doors are opened, and then reenter as the LAST person when doors are about to close. He will get his wish without blocking others

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Also, people who are sitting with their feet too far out to the center of the car, where people need to stand and walk.

Also, people who cross their legs with the bottom of their shoes threatening to dirty someone else's clothing.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
Maria from Brooklyn

1. eating sunflower seeds

2. more importantly, littering the shells underneath on the floor.

3. rude, gross, and wrong.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Wow, didn’t expect to see so many post before the segment. My top 10 are below in no specific order (I apologize if I repeat something above).
1.No eating or drinking of any kind
2.No feet/shoes on seats
3.Music should not be audible from headphones, earbuds, or cellphones
4.No blocking doors with strollers, bicycles, or suitcases
5.If you sit in the “middle seat” people will sit on either side of you
6.No graffiti or similar vandalism
7.No “spread eagle” or crossed leg sitting during rush hour
8.Talk at a moderate volume level
9.No full fold paper reading during rush
10.Don’t just let your bag, purse, or backpack slam into other commuters.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
L from Brooklyn Heights

I have unfortunately seen people clip their nails in the subway more than once. I was on the R train Sunday, and the woman next to me took a very involved manicure kit out of her bag and began to clean under her nails and clip them. It was so disgusting.

Jun. 11 2009 11:54 AM
csc from manhattan

backpacks!! absolutely. don't swing around and hit people with your backpack.

also, give up your seat for an elderly person. you'll want one, someday.

Jun. 11 2009 11:53 AM
David from Maspeth

I can never tell if women are pregnant or not. Sometimes I think they are pretending.

Jun. 11 2009 11:53 AM
simon dale from New York

Backpacks. Definitely getting wacked in the face by large unwieldly backpacks during rush hour. Tack it off and put it between your feet. Also Strollers should be folded when on the train. If they can't fold they shouldn't be brought on the trains, certainly not at rush hour.

But even the worst general behavior by rides pales in comparison to the MTA itself. Most riders are generally well behaved but as for the MTA, they can't be held to much in the way of standards. So:

1-Run your trains on time even if it means getting rid of that century old zone switching procedure the MTA is so proud of.

2-Ventilate your stations. Electric fans have been in existence for over a 100 years. If you can't aircondition overheated stations in the summer put on ventilation fans. This is both old technology and common sense

3-Post prominently both a list of riders rights and the MTA's refund policy. Every business in NY is required to post prominently their refund policy. If the MTA can't deliver reliable service say at night, rush hour or weekends then passengers should be entitled to a partial refund or a credit.

Jun. 11 2009 11:53 AM
Andrew B. from New York City

The "fast lane/slow lane" thing on escalators is new - didn't exist twenty years ago.

A woman behind me in the "fast lane" once tapped me on the shoulder and ask me to ask the "stalled" guy in front of me to move!

I told her to do it herself, if it was so important to her. So she did!

Hey lady, do I look like I am wearing an escalator police uniform?

Jun. 11 2009 11:53 AM
Tom from Hunter College

Ladies wearing a too-heavy dose of perfume. One touch behind the ears, please... not a bath.

Jun. 11 2009 11:53 AM
fil from bronx

Most people only need one seat, please close your legs.

Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
Susan from Brooklyn

1. No excusing yourself to get to the door before your stop if the train is standing-room-only. It is likely that many of the people past whom you are shoving are getting off at that stop, too.
2. No touching others, ever. This includes that totally weird touching of hands on the bar. Of particular importance, if anyone of any sex sees anyone touching anyone else in an inappropriate way, feel free to berate at will. Where is the sexual revolution that makes catcalling and subway groping something we can't ignore?
3. No smelly food.
4. No taking up more than one seat. If you are on one of the new trains, please note that you are not entitled to a six-inch clearance between you and your neighbor.
5. No labored sighs when I want to access a seat that you are blocking with your body or belongings.
6. Jesus Christ, let people off the train before you shove into the car.

Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
Betty Anne from UES

I hate when people start moving through the crowded train before their stop. It's "excuse me," "excuse me," the whole way through the car or door.

Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
Betty Diana Arce from Bronx, NY

Women painting their nails! The smell of the polish is sickening,

Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
CH from Staten Island


Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

men who cannot sit without a four foot span between their legs. if you're too fat to put them together, you should probably be standing!

Jun. 11 2009 11:52 AM
artista from greenpoint

bring back the message I grew up with: STEP LIVELY FOLKS! MOVE TO THE MIDDLE OF THE CAR!
discourage doorway blocking, and discourage people from getting just inside and stopping dead while they survey the car.

Remind people that the car is not your living room: Teenagers in particular take seats across from one another and yell their conversations remarks across the aisle.

Consider the elderly and offer seats (many people still do)

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM

It's SO annoying when people block the doors; sometimes it's a power play, sometimes people are just plain ignorant. Either way, step OUT of the way.

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
John from Bklyn

When on the platform: PLEASE stand aside and let people get off. Gee whiz.

No flossing!!!!! Disgusting.

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
Monique from Manhattan

You might think you're being polite by holding the door for someone struggling at the turnstile. But you're holding up a train full of people.

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
David from Ft. Greene

Aside from the obvious spatial concerns—move in away from the doors, occupy as little real estate as possible, etc.—my guidelines are largely sonic:

1) No gum snapping. Please.

2) If listening to music, please use headphones, and don't just play it directly from your cell phone.

3) Choosing a new ringtone is probably best left to the confines of one's own home.

4) Fingernail clipping: really??

5) Please don't be that guy/gal who's whistling in an otherwise quiet subway car.

all for now...

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
deborah from hudson valley

Don't stop at the top of the stairwell!

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
Noah from Brooklyn

always leave a seat between you and your neighbor

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
Betty Anne from UES

- Clipping Nails
- Spitting
- Littering
- Radios

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
Joelle from NYC

Please let people off before trying to get on please don't lean on the pole!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:51 AM
Tom from Hunter College

Ladies wearing too much perfume. If someone 6 feet away can smell you, you've put on too much.

Jun. 11 2009 11:50 AM
Michelle from Brooklyn

Please, please please-don't give yourself a manicure on the subway. It's gross. The noise makes my hair stand on end.

Jun. 11 2009 11:50 AM
Barry from Ridgewood

Often times I find myself as kind of an "escort" male to women on trains in scary parts of town. I'm usually dressed up for work so people sit near me.

Jun. 11 2009 11:50 AM
Mike from Croton on Hudson

Reading while walking on stairs and platforms

Jun. 11 2009 11:50 AM
Harris from Harlem

--Give up your seat to someone in need.
--If you don't have enough food for everyone on the train, then put it away.
--Turn down your music even when you have earplugs.
--Kids should not use profanity.
--People should not use profanity.
--Smile every now and then!

That's it for now!

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Carol from Brooklyn

Extremely rude: standing in front of door (even at the side) when doors are opened and people need to get on and off. Not only rude but counterproductive since it slows down the ingress/egress act.


Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Friese from Brooklyn

Drink your coffee, eat your hamburger, scream at your children, but for the love of god, please don't clip your fingernails on the subway!

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Jeanne from Hawthorne, NJ

Walk as you drive, stay right, yield to on-coming traffic, use directionals!!!!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

Marcus from Brooklyn hit my sore point. I can't fathom people who stand on the platform and block the door when others in the car are trying to get out.

Just for everyone's edification, I am one of those people who, when I am leaving the car, will "obliviously" bump into the people on the platform, especially effectively blocking the little chinese women from entering the car, at least until all the seats are taken.

I will push anyone out of my way, unless they have children, a stroller, etc. Otherwise, "get the expletive deleted out of my way!"

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
alex from brooklyn

No clipping toe nails on the train (The N is notorious for that). No leaning on the pole on a crowded train. If your not taking an empty seat in front of you, move out of the damn way so someone else can sit. No Mcdonalds on the train. It smells awful.

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Romanie Baines from Manhatan

Unfortunately too many guys are still guilty of taking up two seats by the old spreading their legs apart thing! This while people are standing up without seats.
Rule should be: Legs together, guys!

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Peter from Washington Heights







Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Luke from Brooklyn

Sub Etiquette:

Everyone should step aside at the doors and LET PEOPLE OFF BEFORE THEY RUSH ON...

This includes ELDERLY ASIAN PEOPLE!!!!

I can't count the times I've gotten a fore-arm in the gut from a tiny elderly (usually) Asian woman making a bee line through the crowd...

Jun. 11 2009 11:49 AM
Michael from Manhattan

Stand to the right on escalators so that people who want to walk up the steps can get by.

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Mandy Goldberg from Carroll Gardens

Absolutely, positively NO NAIL-CLIPPING on the subway. This is an offense of the highest degree. Punishment should have something to do with waiting for an absent G train...
I've had to move my seat on a subway in order to stop hearing the nauseating click-click-click of someone who can't find the time to trim their nails at home. Ugh...

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Karen from NYC

Men need to keep their legs shut. Many times I try to sit down and some man has his legs spread a mile apart taking up the edge of each seat on either side of him. Drives me crazy only 2nd behind a man not getting up for a pregnant lady. Come on, pregnant women deserve a break, why is it always another woman getting up and rarely a man.
By the way, I don't hate men, just think they are sometime missing a link of awareness.

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Isabel from Astoria

(1) No Hugging(Hogging) of poles


(3) No screaming into cell phones when above ground.

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Theresa from Brooklyn

1. Take off your damn backpack.
2. Put your knees together.
3. Hold the center pole with your hands, not your whole body.

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Felipe from Brooklyn

Oh and on a serious note for the occasional subway spat have a rule that you hug it out after the aggression is over. :-)

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Mary Jane from Brooklyn

How about Don't stand in the middle of the subway stairs while you finish your cell phone conversation!

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
Bora from Soho

Please! No nail clipping in subway cars. Also, no having love affairs with food items.

Jun. 11 2009 11:48 AM
donna from New york City

Please learn how to fold the New York Times when reading it on the train. Nothing is more annoying than having someone's paper in your face.

Jun. 11 2009 11:47 AM
Michelle from Brooklyn

I have a few. Don't hug the pole, you are not the only person on the train. Don't bring your bike on the train during rush hour. Men should learn how to sit with their legs closer together. I'm so sick of guys who spread their legs 8 feet apart on the subway so I can barely fit in my seat. rude.

Jun. 11 2009 11:47 AM
Kate + Krissa from commute from BK to Midtown

This is a collaborative effort.
Kate + Krissa's subway etiquette:

1) Always offer your seat to pregnant women, people with small children or strollers, handicapped people, and anyone who is significantly older than you.

2) Refrain from eating on the subway, especially something like tacos, bananas, or anything with garlic that makes the whole train smell. We think coffee in travel mugs, and granola bars are acceptable.

3) Do NOT clip your nails on the train. Enough said.

4) Do not place excess bags, luggage, or dogs on the seats. Seats are for people, put your luggage on the floor. In addition, do not take up more than one seat. It is especially annoying when guys put their arm around a seat so women feel awkward sitting there.

5) When a train arrives in the station, stand to one side of the train door and wait for everyone to exit before entering the train.

6) The subway pole is not a stripper pole.

7) If everyone else can hear your music through your headphones, you're causing hearing loss to yourself and annoying the train. Turn it down.

Thanks Brian!

Jun. 11 2009 11:46 AM
Douglas from Angola, Indiana

1) No chewing gum. No chewing gum. No chewing gum.

2) No music w/o earbuds.

Jun. 11 2009 11:46 AM
Bora from Soho

Please! No nail clipping in subway cars. SO nasty. Also: no having love affairs with food items.

Jun. 11 2009 11:46 AM

Offer a seat to a pregnant woman!

Jun. 11 2009 11:46 AM
Chris Rosen

Keep one's legs straight ahead when seated, not out to the sides sticking into the people trying to sit next to them.

Jun. 11 2009 11:46 AM
serge from NYC

*Take off that huge backpack!!
*turn down the I-Pod - for both our sakes
*Stop hogging the door or pole(unless you plan to dance on it)
*if the space is too small dont sit there!

Jun. 11 2009 11:45 AM
andrea from kew gardens

Please keep your knees closed so that you don't take up more than your space. It is maddening as people sit on the train with their legs splayed open so that no one can sit next to them. If you have problems with personal space, you probably shouldn't be riding the subway!

Jun. 11 2009 11:45 AM
Michael from Manhattan

1. Give up your seat immediately to elderly, disabled or pregnant people as well as people with small children. Don't pretend you're asleep or don't see them.

2. Don't put your feet on the seats or the poles. People don't need to sit on or touch all the stuff you've walked in all day.

3. Don't block the doors when people are getting on or off the train.

4. Wait for everyone to get off first before diving into the train to get your precious, precious seat that you're only going to sit in for three stops.

5. Don't sit on the stairs.

6. Use the garbage cans. Don't pretend that your garbage goes away because you put it under your seat. Just because you can't see it anymore doesn't mean it has disappeared.

7. Keep your conversation low in volume and don't cuss.

8. Don't put a package on the seat next to you on crowded cars.

Jun. 11 2009 11:45 AM

What is up with nail clipping and putting make up on in a subway car? How is this appropriate? And yet quite a few people do that...

Jun. 11 2009 11:45 AM
Felipe from Brooklyn

Have no street performances on the train between 12am-10pm or some other determined time. I'm a musician and understand they're trying to make a living so I'm not completely serious, but at 8am the last thing I want to hear while still half asleep is a mariachi band or the lone sax player honking away no matter how great it sounds.

Jun. 11 2009 11:44 AM
Tiffany Navarro from Brooklyn

Never lean your whole body on a pole in the subway. It's very inconsiderate because it does not leave room for other riders to hold on to the pole.

Jun. 11 2009 11:44 AM
Sue from brooklyn

Apologize and/or say excuse me when you smack someone with a bag, bump them or step on their feet. A kind acknowledgement of those around you, a small apology and a smile will go a long way.

Jun. 11 2009 11:44 AM

No Door Blocking!

Jun. 11 2009 11:43 AM
Jay from Manhattan

How about an etiquette campaign in the schools and within the subway cars?

Jun. 11 2009 11:43 AM
Harv from Manhattan

If you're on a train with a large tote under your arm or big, packed knapsack and you're standing, you most likely are on a packed train. If people are trying to move past you, remember that you're appendages are part of you and affect those around you. Many of us want to leave the train with the same limbs we entered the train with.

Jun. 11 2009 11:42 AM
Luke from Long Island City

The escalators across New York have developed their own unwritten rule; an option for both the walkers and the standers which only takes one dissenter to upheave. The problem I think is that it is an unwritten rule and should be afforded perhaps the same level of formality as the bike/walk lanes on the williamsburg bridge. No penalties, just order. There should also be a sign that notifies pedestrians that if they get shoved or pushed past, not to take it personally and understand that we are all victims of our commute.

Jun. 11 2009 11:42 AM
Bob from Sunnyside

Regarding Subway Ettiquette
#1 People must not stand in the doorways of the subway cars, blocking entrance and egress of the rest of the passengers. The # 7 train is the worst for people blocking the doorways.

Jun. 11 2009 11:41 AM
Robert from Manhattan

Don't lean on the vertical poles. When you find my knuckle behind your head, be aware that your offended glare means nothing to me or anyone else.

Jun. 11 2009 11:40 AM
Alec Harrington from Manhattan

People who are going to stand still on subway escalators and not walk, should stand to the right.

Jun. 11 2009 11:40 AM
dew from office in Manhattan, home in The Bronx

Office Worker [52], with respect, I must disagree with a couple of your points, sir.

Perhaps we have a different understanding of the term "man-sitting." It is natural for men to sit with our legs apart, but it is not natural for us to sit with our legs spread wide open. No, I don't think it's some sort of conspiracy as you humorously suggest, but there are some men who not only sit spread eagle. They proceed to rock their legs back and forth, perhaps for some sexual stimulation created by the friction of cloth rubbing against their genitalia. That's rude. It's gross.

As for standing in the doorway, you may think you're squeezing out of the way, but I promise you, you are not. I like to read on the subway, too, but sometimes I have to wait. Move to the middle, and if that means you have to wait before you read, maybe you shouldn't be taking the subway.

Jun. 11 2009 11:39 AM
Monique from Manhattan

Eating on the platform or the car itself is like eating in the bathroom. Save for a stick of gum, it is unacceptable to whip out a ham sandwich or a pizza slice when you're squeezed between two people during rush hour.

Jun. 11 2009 11:39 AM
Sharon Houlihan from Elmhurst, NY

Etiquette starts at the top or middle of the stairwell where people are often blocking access to the hand rails, either texting or getting their final phone fix before heading underground.

Jun. 11 2009 11:39 AM
wendy from Brooklyn

What about conductor etiquette! The only thing worse than people entering the train before passengers get off are the conductors who request that you let people off first and then slam the door in your face (and they ALL do this). Definitely reinforces premature boarding.

Jun. 11 2009 11:39 AM
Robert from Manhattan


Move to the center of the car. Don't stand in the doorway. If you do so, please recognize the simple fact of physical space means you will get bumped into, so please do not complain.

These rules are not mandatory, but please recognize that failure to comply DOES mean you are a selfish jerk.


Do not throw trash on the tracks. Trash is the #1 cause of track fires and track fires are the #1 cause of service delays. Nobody likes service delays. Ergo, nobody likes people who cause them.


Bathe. Please?

Jun. 11 2009 11:39 AM
Gina from New York, NY

My biggest pet peeve is that people don't move to the center of the subway car when there is clearly enough room for everyone. This is especially a problem during the busiest times, rush hour.

Jun. 11 2009 11:38 AM
Harv from Manhattan

If you're a passenger with a large tote hanging under your arm or very large, packed knapsack and you're standing, you probably don't have a seat and the train is packed. Think about moving to accommodate people attempting to pass by you. Many of us want to leave the train with the same limbs we entered the train with.

Jun. 11 2009 11:38 AM
Randy Paul from Jackson Heights, NY

1.) Let people out first. You will still get on the train if you wait a moment.

2.) If you don't know that doors are where people enter and exit the train, then you shouldn't be riding the subway. Stay out of the doors.

3.) If a train is coming into the station there is no need to run at the speed of a bat out of hell to catch. They are not ripping up the tracks behind this train; there will be another train.

4.) Take up one seat. If your genitalia are that large that your legs have to spread so wide, quit your job and become a porn star. If you are that obese, consider walking to work.

5.) If you must sleep, please note that the person next to you is not your pillow.

6.) Don't urinate onto the tracks. There are public restrooms in Barnes and Noble, Borders, Starbucks, Citicorp Center and the Time Warner Center, amongst other locations.

7.) Don't defecate in the train (yes I've seen that happen). See number 6 above.

8.) Don't have sex on the train (yes I've seen that happen).

9.) A crowded train is not a green light for frottage.

Jun. 11 2009 11:38 AM
Steve Snow from Washington Heights

May I add some public-address etiquette for MTA employees? We all like to be informed as to where the train is, and where it is going. But please, aspiring comics, commentators and misc. monologuists: shut up and drive the train. Thank you.

Jun. 11 2009 11:38 AM
Alec Harrington from Manhattan

People who are going to stand still on subway escalators and not walk should stand to the right. If the escalator is too narrow to stand to one side, it's not really impolite to stand still, but I ask people not to do it unless they are old, children or with children, have hevay bags/packages, or have problems walking on stars.

Jun. 11 2009 11:38 AM
Nicole from Washington Heights

1. Do NOT stand in the doorways.
2. Do NOT check your cell phone or play with your ipod on the subway steps.
3. Do NOT spread your legs so wide that they take up more than one seat.
4. Do NOT wear shoes, sandals, flip flops or high heels that impair your ability to walk or handle stairs at a reasonable pace.
5. Do NOT spit inside the subway car.

Jun. 11 2009 11:37 AM
Susan Beola from Manhattan

2 rules of etiquette
1- men cannot spread their legs more than 6"
2- all must remove backpacks and keep them by their sides.

Jun. 11 2009 11:36 AM
Sara Reiss from astoria, queens

1. as a short person (5' nothing) I'd really appreciate it if people would realize I cannot comfortably reach the overhead bars and allow for people of similar stature the courtesy of using the vertical bars, so we aren't flinging around on our tip toes

2. stop playing with your ringtones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:35 AM
Steve Snow from Washington Heights

Please don't stop walking and look around when you arrive the bottom or top of the stairs. Just keep going, you'll figure it out.

Jun. 11 2009 11:35 AM
Linda from Manhattan

PLEASE, no fingernail clipping of ANY KIND!

Please get out of the way of people entering and exiting the train!


Please turn down your iPods!

Please don't sit in-between seats, taking up two instead of one.

Men, please sit with your knees together so others can sit in the seats beside you.

Please keep your bag(s) off seats.

And when it's crowded, PLEASE TAKE OFF YOUR BACKPACKS!

Thank you.

Jun. 11 2009 11:35 AM
Alexa Birdsong from Harlem

Never ever clip your fingernails on the subway or the bus.

Jun. 11 2009 11:34 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


agreed. but the etiquette enforcers would have to be police or no one will take it seriously.

Jun. 11 2009 11:32 AM
Ruth from Manhattan

DON'T take a bath in cologne.
NO LOUD earpods.
MOVE! If you're not crippled, walk swiftly into the train.
GIVE your seat to a person who has a disability.

Jun. 11 2009 11:32 AM
Rich from Staten Island

Don't shove me in the back as I try to get on the subway. I realize it is crowded but just because you are behind me, it is rude and can be dangerous to push on me for you to get on the subway.

Jun. 11 2009 11:31 AM
Diane from Brooklyn

1. Do NOT run into the subway when the doors are closing.

2. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you are going to drink a coffee on the subway at least keep the lid on it.

On a recent D train ride into work someone (I will refrain from using any expletives here) carrying an uncovered coffee ran onto the train while the doors were closing resulting in an entire coffee being thrown directly in my face. A wonderful start to the day to say the least.

Jun. 11 2009 11:27 AM
antonio from park slope

I would love if the mta hired etiquette enforcers. Sort of like subway super-heros!
In my world they would demand that people not pick their noses in a open and unabashed fashion. This would also include nail clipping.. They would demand that the needy have first dibs on seats. Women throughout the system would be free of strangers lame attempts of unwanted conversations.
I am sure the other listeners could add more to what my defenders of decency would protect.

Jun. 11 2009 11:21 AM
Office Worker from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Steve: what business or concern is it of yours why non-students have backpacks? You don't know where your fellow riders are going or what their lives are like. That is silly. I carry a book bag every where I go, every day. I have every right to have one and won't be questioned on the matter. My life is not so simple that it can be summarized with two pockets worth of daily carriage.

To all, regarding talking to teenagers: Do not. Be serious, anybody who's reached their age and doesn't even have the respect to not yell and curse on the train is not going to have the respect not to verbally assault you for calling them on it. At least. Don't start fights on an already-rowdy train when we are stuck on it with both sides.

To the commentor who asked about "man-sitting.": It is completely unconscious. If I happen to be sitting on the train, I need to consciously remind myself not to spread out. I guarantee you that in the vast majority of cases, no malice is intended. No sinister plan. If you're not a man, you might not understand, that's just how our legs work. If I were to sit like a woman, legs pressed together, that would be uncomfortable as well as counter intuitive. Obviously, there is a happy medium in posturing style, but we men need to be conscious of it. It's not something that comes as second nature.

Finally: I stand in the doorways. I squeeze out of people's way as they enter and exit, but that's all I can do for you. All I want to do is read on the damn train and take a little load off and it can't be done, gripping a pole in the middle for dear life. Hate me if it makes you happy. You're going to get on and off of the train, you're not really being injured by my "insensitivity," so stop whining. At least I'm not taking seats away from sick old people, pregnant women and women of any age.

Jun. 11 2009 11:21 AM
lynus from Manhattan

STOP the conductors who yell at every stop about holding the doors. I agree about the kids, I would rather wait until after schools rush rather than need to put up with listening to the few but VERY, very uncouth students. For the most part I see acts of kindness everyday via public transportation and that helps.

Jun. 11 2009 11:20 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Here are some rules of etiquette that could really help with the flow of traveling underground:

1) Don't block the turnstile while digging through your bag, pockets, coat, etc. looking for your metrocard. Step aside and let people through while you locate your card.

2) Wait your turn to get onto the trains by letting people get off before entering.

3) Step aside if you're standing next to the door when the train comes to the station. Make room for people to get on/off the train.

4) Once on the train, MOVE TO THE CENTER! Its the most obnoxious thing during rush hour to see clumps of people crowded by the door with tons of space in the center of the car. Straphangers can't get on the train even though there is space because people don't move!

5) Eating/drinking on trains -- its not just coffee that concerns me. What about the kid who brings on greasy fried food on a crowded train? That stuff is just bound to end up on someone else and stain their clothes. There are several other train systems in the US that don't allow eating on the trains (i.e. DC, San Francisco) and they have much cleaner, nicer smelling stations with less litter.

6) Stand on the right, walk on the left. If anyone has ever gone through 51st Street station where the 6 and E/V lines meet during rush hour, you know what I mean. Extremely long escalators and there is always that one person who decides to stand on the left. If this were DC or London, you'd be mulled over by angry commuters.

7) Give up your seat to elderly, parents with small children, people with disabilities, and pregnant women.

8)Panhandlers -- they aren't supposed to bepanhandling on the subways in the first place, but I understand you do what you have to do. Just please don't do it during rush hour when there isn't space for you to move through each car of the trains.

Jun. 11 2009 11:20 AM
little mike from brooklyn

I think the following afflicts so-called "cool" new yorkers, too blase to see they are taking advantage of the limited space/patience on the train car:

No leaning or hugging on the poles...this is for support, it is not a chaise lounge or a strip pole.

No leaning back into that little window at the seat next to the door (especially on the R line): THAT IS WHERE MY HEAD IS, NOT YOUR BACK-PACK OR FLUFFY FUR COAT.

All bags go on the floor: I once had to squeeze into a seat next to 3 bags of fairway groceries with their own seats, while the looked indignant that I dared sit next to her arugula.

Do not snort at out-of-towners or people doing something that bothers you: if you have a problem just tell them or if you do, don't wait until you are about to get off the train that is lame.

that is all

Jun. 11 2009 11:17 AM
Alison from Upper West Side

Backpacks and large bags on the shoulder or back on a crowded train - either people are clueless or don't care that they're being disrespectful.

Jun. 11 2009 11:17 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

A positive rule and a negative rule:

-: Holding the doors open for someone running a little late is a *definite* no-no, even if it is for your spouse or the most sympathetic person in the world. Holding the doors open for one person slows down the hundreds of others who are already on the train. Furthermore, it is the kind of thing that can lead to uneven separation of trains -- which is what leads to the BIG slows downs.

+: It's OK to speak to the people around you. It's OK to speak to the children and teenagers around you, especially if you are *not* scolding them. It is OK to speak to people around you of different ethnicities.

Jun. 11 2009 11:15 AM
Lana from Brooklyn NY

I've been riding the subway for the past 10 years since I was commuting to a Manhattan HS from Brooklyn. I've seen everything from people masturbating to picking their noses. As far as the subway goes all rules are out and no one is there to inforce them even if we had them.

But if I could ban one thing I think it would be people clipping their fingernails on the subway, which I have seen done on the train on several occasions....

Jun. 11 2009 11:14 AM
Marissa from Manhattan, NY

Perhaps we should organize the platforms in a different way; have people line up in areas designated for their needs: cars for people with children, strollers, etc. nearest the exits/elevators. A car for the coffee drinkers, eaters, nail clippers and over perfum-ers. A car for people without luggage, big bags, or other items to transport. A car for people like me (with my big slouchy purse) who can hold it near their feet (which I always do).
If we sort like-with-like, maybe we have fewer reasons to complain.

Jun. 11 2009 11:14 AM
julee from Brooklyn

Let's see:

Men's legs (knees) should not span wider than the size of their seat. Their knees should not be touching me.

If you smell you should know it and you should not place your armpit near my nose.

You shall not expell gas.

You should not enter the train until I have left the train.

You shall not pretend that you are asleep while a 40 week pregnant woman/eldery person stands suffering.

Mr. Creepy when your hand slides down the pole and touches my hand you will quickly remove it and not let it rest on my hand. You know who you are.

You will not wear copious amounts of perfume and then get offended when I start to gag near you. You will also not spray perfume in an enclosed space.

You will not bang into me becasue you rushed passed me while I was trying to get off train and be surprised when your ass gets a kick.

Jun. 11 2009 11:14 AM
Philippa from Brooklyn

Okay, here's another one: parents who talk to their young children REALLY loudly, as if we should all be as fascinated by their cute offspring as they are. Maybe that's where teenagers learn they don't have to use their inside voices on the train.

Jun. 11 2009 11:13 AM
Lili from Greenpoint

Wear actual headphones while listening to your crappy music or playing your video game! Earbuds are like speakers!

Jun. 11 2009 11:13 AM
courtney from Manhattan

No nails and no makeup - PLEASE!

Makeup helps us to look and feel our best in front of co-workers, family, friends etc. But caking it on while riding the A-Train is thoughtless in two key ways: it suggests that those around you don't matter (or you'd be sure you look your best before getting on the train); and it forces everyone to ignore the entire application process - weird facial expressions like pursed lips and raised eyebrows - and disregard the often nauseating amounts of makeup some chose to pile on. This may be more offensive than nail clippings.

Read a book, read the newspaper, listen to an ipod. But please keep the primping to the privacy of your own home.

Jun. 11 2009 11:12 AM
Raoul Calleja from Midtown

If you can feel someone's breath on the back of your neck, it means they are standing too close to you.

Jun. 11 2009 11:11 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn


I didn't describe anyone as "ghetto." In fact, the people whom you describe would *not* be labelled "ghetto" with the usage at issue.

More generally, however, you can be sure that I would never describe anyone as "ghetto" because it is not a term I use or like. I understand it, and understand who uses it. It is quite different than "trailer trash," primarily in who has coined the usage.

However, this is a discussion for another time.

Jun. 11 2009 11:11 AM
Erica from Brooklyn NY

My number 1 petpeev on the subway is hearing people's music. There are people playing their music on their cell phones without earphones! Just jamming like they are in their homes, oblivious to their surroundings. And even when they use ear phones the bass is sooo loud it doesn't make a difference.
As a common courtesy, please turn down your music!

Jun. 11 2009 11:11 AM
regina schrambling from manhattan

1) Thou shalt not bring odiferous fast food onto the train, let alone leave your garbage.
2) Thou shalt not wield an emery board. You will create a train-stopping sick passenger with that sound.
3) Thou shalt not clip your toenails. And definitely not clip someone else's toenails.
4) And thou shalt not defecate in the stairwells (seen it).

Jun. 11 2009 11:11 AM
Alex from Park Slope from Midtown

Forget rules for subway passengers. What about rules for the MTA?

I'm not talking about rate hikes or anything like that, but I hate that the MTA decided to lock the doors between subway cars on the F line and other lines.

If you're on a train late at night and don't feel safe -- or if you feel like you're gagging from someone's body odor -- sometimes you just don't want to wait until the next station to find a new car.

Jun. 11 2009 11:10 AM
Raoul Calleja from Midtown

If a seat opens up directly in front of you, this means you have first dibs on that seat. You have the right to sit there yourself or give it to someone else. No one should sneak in without your permission.

Jun. 11 2009 11:10 AM
Philippa from Brooklyn

Okay, most everything I hate about subway travel has already been covered, but here's one that I find really gets up my nose - literally. Being on a crowded subway with people's morning breath, especially the yawners. Don't these people brush their teeth? Wish I had the guts to hand out breath mints.

Jun. 11 2009 11:09 AM
Andrew from Midtown

People getting upset because they've been grazed in a packed subway car is unacceptable. -- This is NYC. If you can't take the crowds you shouldn't be here to begin with.

Jun. 11 2009 11:08 AM
Julia Dobry from Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Do not lean against the poles in the center of the car. It leaves others with no place to hold on.

Jun. 11 2009 11:08 AM

If you're too poor to buy soundproof headphones, and still insist on blasting it for all to hear, you should not heed the "watch the gap" announcements (although, you wouldn't be able to hear them anyway).

Jun. 11 2009 11:07 AM
Andrew from Midtown

Subway car poles are designed so that you can grip them with your hand so you don't fall. It is terribly impolite to see people leaning on it as if they owned it.

Also, the first thing you do when you walk into a subway car is to head to the middle of the car. Why is it that people cram by the doors - they seem to refuse to go to the middle!!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:07 AM
Sarah from Williamsburg

1. Don't unnecessarily stand in the doorway.
2. Let people off before you board.
3. Take up only one seat (unless you;re too big) -- don't wait until people ask you to move over.
4. Take off your backpack when it's crowded!
5. Don't lean on the pole if other people are standing.
6. Bathe or wear industrial-power deodorant.

Jun. 11 2009 11:06 AM
Raoul from Midtown

On a crowded train, teenage boys who sit with their legs wide open taking up two spaces should move over without being asked.

Jun. 11 2009 11:06 AM
Tall Girl..... from West Village

If someone who is tall tells you that if you move into the empty 3 feet of space next to you the 15 people trying to get on the train can do so..... MOVE!

Tall people have quite a different point-of-view than short people and if you listened to them, everyone would fit on the train! WE SEE YOU!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:05 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

1. Don't stand in the stairwell leading down to the subway to talk on your cellphone.

2. Don't stop once you reach the top of the subway stairs to look around.

3. Don't suddenly stop in the middle of the sidewalk to fumble for something.

I view walking in this city as I would driving a car: keep moving straight ahead in your lane at a reasonable speed; pass slow-movers to the left; and if you have to do something, pull over to the side where you won't be in anyone's way.

ALSO: don't walk at a snail's pace with 5 of your friends side by side so that you take up the whole width of the sidewalk. This ain't a game of Red Rover.

Jun. 11 2009 11:05 AM
Alison from Upper West Side

Standing in the way of exiting passengers or pushing your way in before any passengers get off and the best: those that stand by the door and won't budge when there's a train load of people trying to get off and/or on. Didn't their mother's teach them anything!!!

Jun. 11 2009 11:05 AM
Abby from Brooklyn, NY

Cough or sneeze into your shoulder/upper arm and not on the hand that you use to also clutch the rails. Also, use tissues! I have seen people wipe their noses with their hands and proceed to grab a shared pole. Hello H1N1!

Jun. 11 2009 11:04 AM
Alison from Upper West Side

I think preaching on the subway should be outlawed.

Jun. 11 2009 11:04 AM
Alison from Upper West Side

It would be great if guys didn't sit with their legs spread eagle. Extremely irritating and disrespectful.

Jun. 11 2009 11:03 AM
Steve from Staten Island

People sitting with their legs spread apart so as to intimidate another person from sitting down or even asking for a seat.

People, not students, with backpacks -- what the heck are they carrying in these things day after day? First, take them off because they double your "footprint" and second, be careful when you turn, you're bumping into others.

Strollers during rush hour.

Jun. 11 2009 10:49 AM
hjs from 11211

does anyone else want to push people down the stairs who read or text while walking up the stairs during rush hour

please keep to the right on the stairs!
don't clip your nails on the train
don't stand in the doorway

Jun. 11 2009 10:48 AM
Anonniemuss from East Village, NYC

i can't listen to today's segment live so I don't know if this has been covered already, but my #1 annoyance on the subway is the men who sit with their legs as far apart as possible, taking up as much space as possible. I don't know whether they do this unthinkingly or whether they do it purposefully in an effort to give the appearance of having massive junk, or maybe some of them even have a medical issue that needs urgent attention, but it is annoying! If you can't sit without taking up enough space for 2 or 3 people, go stand in an out-of-the-way spot!

A close second: People blasting their music. They invariably have pretty bad taste in music, too!

Jun. 11 2009 10:47 AM
fuva from Harlem, NY


- NO out-loud music playing (headphones only, and not blasting)

- NO loud talking

- NO foul, vulgar language

Don't impose on others in a shared public space.

Also, adults: Stop being afraid to calmly and respectfully engage young people when their public behavior is inappropriate...

Jun. 11 2009 10:46 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

How about the poor polite officers who ride the subways when schools let out? They stand there with no power, or exerting no power. The kids still run through the cars, yell, take up numerous seats, etc. I have been on cars where the kids are yelling at the top of their lungs, but the cops do nothing.

Jun. 11 2009 10:44 AM
Zuma Jay from Brooklyn

1) No spitting - I once confronted an oaf on this issue. Also no spitting out sunflower seed shells, no clipping your nails.
2) If you must pass gas, please get off the train and do so in the great outdoors.
3) No cussing, come on there are children around and also I don't want to hear it!
4) Don't stand there and block the doors when people are trying to get on and off.
5) Pack your garbage out with you when you leave the train.
6) Give up your seat for pregnant ladies, the elderly, small children and people with canes or crutches or other disabilities.

Jun. 11 2009 10:41 AM
Kate from UWS

Let us turn our attention for a moment to the odious "emergency exit" alarms on the gates, and the people who use them as exits, rather than going through the turnstiles. Really, there's not enough caffeine in the world to prepare me to routinely hear that sound at 7:45am. People, you can go through a turnstile, it takes just a few seconds more. And MTA: the alarms aren't working. You can remove them now.

Subway preachers: I respect your right to practice your religion. I understand that you feel that you have a moral imperative to save my soul. But are you really winning over converts by shrieking about hell at 7:30 in the morning at Columbus Circle? Because your ominous intonations *already* feel like a little taste of hell.

Jun. 11 2009 10:38 AM
Trina from New York City

No personal grooming. At the top of this list: Nail clipping!

Jun. 11 2009 10:30 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


I know many people from the inner city or as you say, "ghetto," who are polite, respectful and awesome in every manner. When I was in high school I remember a good friend making a "trailer trash" comment similar to what you are saying with ghetto. My girlfriend at the time was raised in a trailer park and just started crying - she was really hurt. I have seen others get really offended by the term ghetto as well. ceolaf, your views on this matter are, in my opinion, delusional. You can use language that is meant to hurt others, I will not. Take care sugar.

Jun. 11 2009 10:20 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Rule #1: Let people off before you try to get on the train. This means get out of the way of the door (i.e. don't stand in front of it) and make sure there's a clear path to the stairwell.

Did you know they did some experiments in Paris and found that if people boarders let departers off trains first, the trains leave the station faster? That is, if you get over your self-centered self, you'll get to your destination faster?


"Ghetto" means "low class" or "ill-mannered" among the low-SES and minority youth of this city, and probably for others, too. So, when TerezaIzabel (#3) wrote "It's not just ghetto people acting poorly. I've seen wall-street types in suits..." she was using a particular expression -- not judging minority or poor people. Clearly, she was pointing out that people who supposedly have some degree of class (e.g. those wearing suits) do this do.

I'm sorry Peter (#4), but the issue here is your lack of familiarity with an expression that's been in use for over decade, not any close-mindedness on TerezaIzabel's part. Ironically, you've displayed a certain close-mindedness to a dialect with which you are not well familiar.

Jun. 11 2009 10:14 AM
dew from office in Manhattan, home in The Bronx

PS - I will confess to drinking coffee in the morning, but I only use my sealable travel mug, and I don't drink it unless I am sitting or can freely move my arm up and down.

Jun. 11 2009 09:52 AM
dew from office in Manhattan, home in The Bronx

Since others have set the precedent of listing behaviors they find annoying, I ask your indulgence for the same:
1-people crowding the doors, not allowing people to get off the train or to get into the train (Unless it's jam-packed in there, move your butt to the middle!)
2-loud talking
3-loud music. C'mon folks, those Ipods / MP3's are for personal listening. I don't want to be forced to listen to your music. This is a great time to invest in hearing aid companies, because the wave of hard-of-hearing Americans is building.
4-Excessive PDA's. The two teenage lesbians from Brandeis HS's softball team who did everything except undress in front of my toddler should have be banned from public areas until they can get their emotions under control. And it matters not to me whether excessive PDA's are hetero- or homo-. Keep it private, please.
5-Hearing the "n-word". Whether it ends in "-er" or "-a", it undermines the Herculean efforts of many who had a hand in changing this nation.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

Jun. 11 2009 09:50 AM
Office Worker from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Everybody on the subway is more important than you.

Jun. 11 2009 09:45 AM
dew from office in Manhattan, home in The Bronx

Since you asked for my rules of etiquette, here are the ground rules that I exemplify:
1-step to the side of the door of an arriving train and let people get off first
2-when no seats are available, move into the center sections
3-offer a seat to elderly passengers, people with visible injuries, people holding babies/toddlers, and pregnant women
4-when carrying shopping bags, a satchel, etc., put them on the floor, not in the seat beside me

Jun. 11 2009 09:41 AM
stu in nyc

The MTA has rules about most of these items, but since the rules are not enforced, anything goes. Here's my ideas:

1) personal audio devices - If I can hear what you're listening to, then your "in-the-ear" headphones are not really in your ear, or the volume is so high that it is doing damage to your ears. but I would never tell you to turn it down, because it's not damaging me or the other passengers.

2) standing in the doorway - if you're not exiting at the next stop, there is no reason for you to block the flow of passenegers in or out of the train (and there's usually lots of room in the middle of the car). When the doors open, either step aside (i.e.: turn your body sideways) or step out of the car. if you're blocking the path, don't get upset when people push against you.

3) volume of personal conversations - if I can hear your conversation at the other end of the subway car, you are much too loud. Since these loud conversations are mostly from students, I can only assume that their hearing has been damamged by personal audio devices. I remember when subway etiquette was taught in the NYC public schools (they also taught how to fold the NY Times so you could read it while holding on to the strap), but I guess basic skills (like reading and writing) are more important. However, how to speak in public using "nice" words should be taught at home...

4) staircase etiquette - keep to the right. all staircases are 2 way roads. there is no "up" or "down" staircase.

Jun. 11 2009 09:40 AM
Gabrielle from Brooklyn

Don't cut in front of someone on the platform who has been standing there waiting for the train long before you. drives me nuts!

and i second Peter's annoyance with teens yelling on the subway - especially in the morning. there should be a separate car for kids under 20.

Jun. 11 2009 09:20 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

I stopped taking the subway to work after the transit strike. Now I walk the 50 blocks, both ways, almost every day. It actually takes about 5-10 minutes less time each day by walking, I get exercise, and I don't have to deal with kids and teens going to and from school every day. I am always the first to give up my seat to a pregnant woman, but it never ceases to amaze me how most people will not. I am also pretty adverse to loud noise and often you get on a subway car with groups of teens who use yelling to one another as a means of communication. Walking is a lot less stressful and has really improved my quality of life. Thanks for listening sweeties.

Jun. 11 2009 08:29 AM
Jan van LIer from Rockaway Park

Eating & drinking are not permitted on Washington, DC's Metro, which seems to contribute to a much cleaner subway, and certainly alleviates the aforementioned coffee anxiety.

As for subway etiquette, I think etiquette in general is on the decline. If only living in a highly populated city did not instigate an "every man for himself" attitude.

Jun. 11 2009 07:26 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

"IT's not just ghetto people..."

TerezaIzabel, nice language sweety. Very open minded.

Jun. 11 2009 06:43 AM
TerezaIzabel from Brooklyn

All sense of proper etiquette is gone. People are constantly getting on the train eating french fries drenched in vinegar + ketchup, kids insert the word "nigger" at the beginning and end of each sentence as if they have some sort of speech impediment. I hear boys talk with girls openly about sex in front of grandmothers, with absolutely ZERO respect.

IT's not just ghetto people acting poorly. I've seen wall-street types in suits not offer up their seat to a pregnant minority woman, sitting and pretending that they're sleeping in the middle of the afternoon. It's shameful.

As much as I love New York, these are the things that make me hate it.

Jun. 11 2009 05:50 AM
Marcus from Brooklyn

What about folks who stand in the doorways when people are trying to leave the train, effectively forcing everyone to exit and enter single file (when otherwise people can leave the train two at a time)?

Jun. 11 2009 05:30 AM
M from New York

Years ago nobody ever brought a cup of coffee on the subway. Now, you might frequently find yourself standing squeezed in next to - or worse - sitting below someone holding 16 ounces of hot, clothes staining liquid in a squashable paper cup with a flimsey plastic lid -- not a good scenario for quite obvious reasons. If you can't smoke or play loud music, why should this be tolerated? Is this really the only time and place people have to down their morning cup of joe while rudely giving all the surrounding passengers an anxiety attack first thing in the morning?

Is there a rule about this (for people who really need one)? If not, should there be? If there is, should there be more enforcement, or at least an "awareness" campaign by the MTA?

And please don't suggest saying something to these people - this is NY so get real - once they get in the door they are there. Then what? I usually just glare and relocate - another NYC survival strategy, "avoid and conquer".

Jun. 11 2009 12:33 AM

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