Basic Etiquette for the Vancouver SkyTrain – or Any Other Mode of Transit

I am elated to be a resident of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The mixture of nature and infrastructure makes it a very popular place for Millennials to grow and thrive. However, due to the exorbitant cost of living, and because we have to eat to survive, I am currently not able to afford my own mode of transportation. Thus, I am a loyal and frequent user of public transit, primarily the SkyTrain. I have had a lot of time to observe and reflect on the sheer variety of behaviours among my fellow passengers – habits and ‘ticks’ that make my commute to work entertaining, displeasing or barely tolerable. I have therefore come up with a list of Transit Etiquette points that all passengers should abide by in order to ensure a pleasant journey for their fellow travellers.

Before Boarding, Let Others Off the Train

It should be common sense that in order for room to be freed up inside the train, people must first be able to get off.  Still, at every station hoards of people aggressively push and elbow their way through the doors before anyone has had the opportunity to exit at their destination. Have these people forgotten that patience is a virtue? I’m pretty sure the seniors, disabled, parents with strollers, or anyone else who needs those 10 extra seconds to disembark have not structured their day around making you late. Perhaps it’s time to brush up on the rules of common courtesy.  

Do Not Block the Doors

The train is not an elevator. You cannot hold the doors open, yet many Vancouverites do exactly this. What they may not know or care about is that doors open for overly long periods of time causes delays in the automated system, and this is incredibly irritating and inconsiderate to your fellow passengers. The trains run every two to seven minutes; if you don’t make it on to this one, another is sure to follow shortly.

Maintain Reasonable Volume Levels

This goes for conversation (both with fellow passengers and on the phone) as well as music or media. If others can hear the music or noise coming from your headphones, it’s too loud. If other passengers can clearly hear what you are listening to over everyone else, as well as the noise coming from the train, it might be time to visit your friendly neighbourhood otolaryngologist. In terms of conversation with fellow passengers, conducting loud conversations is incredibly annoying for those not involved. Nobody wants to hear how drunk you got, why so and so is mad at you, or how much you hate your ex. The SkyTrain is a mode of transportation, not a place for you to air your dirty laundry. Please remember that you are not the only passenger.  

Courtesy Seats

The seats closest to the doors are for people with disabilities, seniors, or pregnant women. If anyone falling under one of those categories enters the train, it is your responsibility as a decent human being to offer them a seat. If all of the courtesy seats are already occupied, passenger seats should be forfeited to those who require them more. If you have two capable, functioning legs and are able to stand, give up your seat. It is the right and polite thing to do.

Remove Your Personal Baggage

It is easy to forget that you are carrying a purse or backpack. If you wear one long enough, it is almost as if they become a part of your body. However, if you are hopping onto a crowded train with any sort of baggage, please ensure that you do not hit (either accidentally or as a means of getting through) anyone with it when you turn around or move in any way. If you are lucky enough to have scored a seat, place your bag on the floor between your legs or on your lap as close to you as possible so as to leave room for those around you. If you leave it in the aisle, someone is bound to trip over it. It is definitely a transit no-no to leave a bag in the middle of the aisle or on the seat next to you.

Practice Personal Hygiene

This is the most common lament among transit users. Regular bathing and deodorant are your friends. Rush hour on the SkyTrain is miserable and crowded enough without having to gag from someone’s excessive use of cologne or funky BO.

Nobody genuinely enjoys using public transit, but there are steps that everyone can take to ensure that the collective journey is as tolerable as possible. The above are just a few examples of habits that can be easily avoided.