Can L.A. Metro riders be more polite? New videos aim to teach public transit etiquette

Can good manners on public transit be taught? L.A. Metro hopes new videos on rider etiquette will help.

In an effort to educate (or shame) the rudest of the rude riders, Metro has unveiled a series of humorous etiquette videos offering primers on some common rules of public transit.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the region’s subways, light rail lines and most buses, uses a sports theme – #metroref – and play-by-play announcers to call out and explain transit fouls, such as trying to board the bus or train before passengers have exited or blocking the aisles with bicycles or luggage.

L.A.’s education effort follows New York City’s new “Courtesy Counts, Manners Make a Better Ride" campaign, which was launched last year after some riders took to social media to document “manspreading” – when riders, often men, sit with their legs wide open and take up more than the allotted seat space. NYC’s campaign does take on manspreaders with signs saying, “Dude, stop the spread. It’s a space issue.”

NYC signs also remind people to remove their backpacks when riding in a crowded train, don’t take up seats with purses or other baggage, don’t eat on the train, don’t clip your fingernails on the train (ewww, people do that?) and don’t pole dance on trains (again, people do that?).

Apparently, L.A. is still a city of novice transit riders that doesn't yet have problems with pole dancing. Metro's video and social media campaign is focused on more basic ridership etiquette. The topics covered include:

Stand to the right on the escalators, walk to the left. This sounds like common sense to me, but judging from the comments on Metro’s website, there’s apparently some dispute over whether the rights of people who want to stand on escalators trump the rights of people who want to walk on escalators. Can’t we all get along?  I think we can agree on one thing: People who sit on the stairs and block traffic are rude.

Hold onto hand rails when standing. Really, we need a video for that?

Board safely. Don’t try to get on the train or bus until the passengers have exited.

Respect the operators. Don’t yell at or scold the bus driver. This rule goes beyond transit etiquette; it’s basic human kindness and courtesy. It’s sad that Metro needs to produce a video to remind riders that operators are people too.

If this becomes a continuing series for Metro, I’d like to see a video on my No. 1 pet peeve of transit riding:  Don’t hog the handicapped seats. At least once a week, I see an elderly person or someone with crutches or a cane board the subway and the seemingly young, fit people sitting in the handicapped seats do not move. It would also be nice to see more creative signs in the stations and trains on these topics.

What do you think, readers? Has Metro hit on the right rules of public transit?  What other etiquette tips would you have for fellow riders?

For more opinions, follow me @kerrycavan

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