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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Enjoying New York City’s Subway: The Do’s and Don’ts

Enjoying New York City’s Subway: The Do’s and Don’ts

Please do not smile at strangers - a sign posted by artists on the 14th St. F train, in the same style as the standard MTA instructional signage.

Arriving in the Big Apple, folks generally can’t wait to explore the city’s endless wonderland of shops, parks, diners, museums, theaters and nightlife. But to relish the best of New York City's attractions — and get around efficiently and quickly — learn to ride the subway.

More than four million people ride New York’s subway system every day. Ah, the noise, the smells, the jostling. There’s nothing like the roar and clatter of the cars roaring up to the platform to whisk you to your destination.

Cabs? They’re okay, but they’re expensive. Plus, they get can get gridlocked in the traffic.

Cabs have other drawbacks. If it’s raining, you can’t get a cab. Also, it’s tough to get a cab at 4 a.m. when the bars close, or at 4 p.m. rush hour. Then, even if you do hail one, the driver might pull over, roll down the window, ask where you’re going, and then drive away if he/she doesn’t feel like going that way.

Who needs the aggravation? That’s why New Yorkers have mastered the subway to get where they want to go.

However, there are some definite Do’s and Don’ts to being a good subway rider:

Have your Metrocard ready. Blocking the turnstile while rummaging through your pockets or purse is no way to make friends.

Don’t hold the doors. Those of us who made the train don’t want to be held up while you hold the door open for your late pals.

Be a gentleman. Yes, older people and pregnant ladies still deserve a seat, even in this modern age. Give them yours.

Don’t hang on the pole. Monkeyshines are not appreciated.

Don’t lean against the vertical pole with your back or sides, or do anything that keeps others from sharing the pole.

Don’t cough or sneeze into your hand and then touch the pole. Yech!

Don’t groom yourself as though you were in your bathroom. And definitely don’t generate flying projectiles by clipping your nails (yes, that includes toenails too).

Let others sit. Don’t put your legs up on the seat or sit with your knees spread apart so others can’t sit.

Don’t talk loudly to others on the train or on your phone. Nobody wants to hear all about your day.

Don’t stare. Yes, she probably knows she’s hot, or dressed strangely. But let’s not add to the spectacle by being a gawking weirdo.

Rein in your kids. Don’t let them run around the car or crawl on stranger’s laps.

Don’t change your kids’ diapers in the car. Amazing one would have to be reminded on this one, huh? Trust me – it happens.

Save the smelly food or drink for later. The lurching cars can send them spilling onto your seatmate.

Let people in. When exiting, allow those trying to catch the subway to get through the turnstiles first. Exiting and entering are often through the same device.

About one billion people ride the subway every year. Just a few gestures of common decency will ensure that everyone gets to where they’re going as smoothly as possible.

Deston compiled this list with his daughter, Deanna Nokes, who lives in Brooklyn and takes the J Train daily.

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