Thursday, August 06, 2009

On London Underground Etiquette

This is another long overdue post. While I love London, appreciate the efficiency and frequency of the London Underground, and get along with Londoners generally, I have a few things I want to get off my chest regarding basic etiquette on the tube. I think 95 percent of people in London follow the rules of etiquette and observe basic human decency, but it's the other 5 percent that are causing problems and ruining it for the rest of us. This is my message to them.

When you're on the tube during commute hours and you're a woman, please show the same courtesy as men regarding their backpacks and briefcases. Women's purses these days have become as large if not larger than a lot of men's briefcases and backpacks, so please, when you're packed in the tube like a sardine, remove the overly gigantic purse from your shoulder and hold it between your legs like we do. It's bad enough in the mornings without having your expensive designer bag jammed into my back.

To the guy with the free London Lite on the tube during commute hours...Do you really need to read about Sienna Miller's whereabouts last weekend if it means shoving your sweaty newspaper in the face of the guy in front of you? Put it down like everyone else. The tube isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. If I could physically pull off the acrobatic task of reading on the tube without interfering with someone else’s personal space, I would.

Young people...Give up your seat for the elderly and the disabled. I see you with your head down, eyes averted as the old guy with the crutches is thrown about the train like a rag doll.

Why do certain people run up the escalator in the morning? I'm already walking as fast as I can on the left hand side of the escalator. If you're that late for any reason at all, you should have taken an earlier tube. If you're doing it for exercise, find an alternative method that's less annoying to the general public. Just because you feel the need to run up the escalator, doesn't mean other people need to.

Please, when you hear the "beeping" of the closing doors, do not run towards the train like a scurrying rat, position yourself so as to trap your bag between the closing doors in order to cause a jam so that the operator is forced to reopen the doors so that you can get on this particular train. In all likelihood, you've just delayed the train you're forcing yourself on as well as the one behind you that would have arrived if you had only waited one extra minute.

When the train is packed, and it stops at a station you're not getting off at, but you happen to be blocking the doors, please step out of the train and let people off. Do not simply put your head down, grasp your arms around your torso and wince as people are forced to bump and knock their way past you simply because you're too lazy and feel too entitled to step off the train.

The above goes for those people who are always so anxious to force themselves onto an already jammed train even though they're preventing people from exiting the train themselves.

We all have to live with signal failures, minor and major delays, people pulling emergency alarms, and those who occasionally "get themselves stuck under the trains". If you can make all of our commuting lives a little easier by following my advice then maybe going to and from work won't be as bad as it has to be.



  1. These are wise words, Keenan. That London Tube in the morning of a work day could be seriously overwhelming as you've described so eloquently and sarcastically! -Mejgan =)

  2. Oh the joys of riding the tube! It's hot on the tube in the summer! Lily

  3. Great post, Keenan! The same etiquette applies to taking the MTR in HK