Bring Etiquette Back

Bring Etiquette Back

The lack of basic manners has recently come to the forefront of discussion on 7 Train Blues. Overcrowding, service delays, and switch problems add to the commuting New Yorker’s daily stress, sending some people into survival mode.

7 Train goers frequently comment on how other riders push and shove their way onto crowded trains, block the doors, and refuse to take off their bulky backpacks—all just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s astonishing is that poor subway manners are nothing new. The New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex at Grand Central is running an exhibit through June on visuals (some of which are pictured above) that other transit agencies from around the world have used to scold passengers into better behavior. CityLab also recently wrote on etiquette campaigns that date back to the early 1900s and even the MTA has resurrected a courtesy campaign for modern times.

Encroaching on its centennial, there’s still an etiquette problem that plagues the 7, which isn’t entirely on the MTA to fix. So, where do we begin? First, 7 Train riders were polled for their biggest peeves and here’s what they said irks them the most:

Backpacks & Belongings

Remove your backpack—especially on crowded trains. Bagss take up space, knock into bystanders and make it difficult for people step on and off the train. Do us all a favor, please remove your backpack once you board and rest it on the floor, your feet or just hold it for the ride. If that doesn’t work for you, at least turn it so that it’s in front of you.

Put personal belongings in your lap or under your seat. The 7 is over capacity and it’s awfully inconsiderate to have your belongings occupy a seat that someone could use. And keep them out of the aisle so others don’t trip over your stuff. 

Don’t litter. Leave the train with all that you came with. The 7 is not a landfill and MTA workers are not paid to clean up after you. Do your part and take your trash with you.

Personal Space

Let others off the train first. Step aside and clear a path for people to exit the train swiftly. The sooner you let people off, the sooner others can step on.

Move toward the center of the car. Crowded trains aren’t fun which is why people park themselves near the door. But blocking other people’s way out just adds unnecessary stress. Be courteous. Make room for others entering behind you.

Stop pushing and shoving. Overcrowded platforms and trains are dangerous enough. Shoving someone is a sign of aggression and may hurt someone. Keep your hands to yourself.

Just apologize. If you bump into someone by accident, apologize, even if you’re not at fault. It’s just a effortless and disarming way to prevent a nasty conflict.

Say "excuse me." If someone’s in your way, say “excuse me.” Don’t just push your way through the crowd because others may take that as rude or aggressive. “Please” and “thank you” are welcomed too—we can all make the train a happier place.

Stop the spreading. Gents, please close your knees; and ladies, please don’t lay your crossed legs across the aisle. Allow room for others to sit or walk across the aisle.

Health & Safety

Cough and sneeze into a tissue, shirt sleeve or the crook of your elbow. Even if it isn’t cold and flu season, you should still cover your mouth. That said, if you sneeze into your hands, mind touching the poles so you don’t spread germs.

Keep your bike out of the way during peak times. Bikes are actually allowed on the trains at all times, but they can inconvenience other customers and disrupt service during rush hour. If you need to bring it aboard, avoid blocking the door and the flow of traffic.

Quit texting. Blocking people’s path while texting causes a bottleneck behind you. Step aside, let others pass and clear the stairwell.


If you are able, please offer your seat to the elderly, disabled or pregnant. This needs no explanation. It’s just the right thing to do.

Don't hold the train doors open. Trains can’t leave the station until all doors are securely shut. One delayed train causes a domino effect on an already overburdened line.

Don’t block train doors. People that insist on standing in front of the doors when the middle of the car is empty are among the biggest annoyance of 7 Train Blues followers. Be nice. Let others on behind you and everyone will have a chance to step off the train.

If you’re standing by the door, step off the train to let people exit.

Don’t hog the pole. Resting your entire body on the pole presents a safety hazard to others who can’t hold on for support. It’s also inconsiderate; please don’t do it.

Wait your turn. If there’s a queue of people waiting to board the train, don’t cut the line. It’s not fair, just wait your turn.

What’s your biggest transit pet peeve? Did we miss something? Let us know! For a system-wide perspective on etiquette, check out NY1’s In Transit segment with Jose Martinez.

PHOTO: Photo: Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex at Grand Central.