Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Tourist's Guide to Metro

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Tourists, by the thousands, descend on DC, and many of them take Metro.

Tourists are often viewed as adding to the litany of Metro woes.

Here's an email from Sarah:
It's that time of year again. Screeching teenagers blocking the exits, taking all the seats, and standing on the left side of the escalator at rush hour.

Dear spring break families and school groups: The monuments will still be still be there at 9:30, enjoy your hotel's continental breakfast.

Here's my idea: SmarTrips only from 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.*

Here's the Twitter take:
  • vlasta80 Judging by this afternoons rush hour - DC's tourist season has started. Plea to tourists please avoid metro during rush hour. #wmata
  • aphraner Tourist (who got stuck in #wmata doors):"There's something wrong w/the doors." Me: "Nope, they don't bounce open" ah tourist season is here
  • kwbarrett Gotta love DC in the spring. Lots of tourist who have no idea how to ride #wmata. Stand to the right please.
  • ironmanjt Tourist season on #wmata is back. Time to renew my hunting license
What advice would you give to tourists? Be kind. The DC economy needs tourists, and for many, Metro is the first time they've had a chance to take a subway. Give 'em some good tips.

*Metro does try to stem the impact of tourists by having day passes only valid after 9:30 a.m.


Anonymous said...

Dear Tourists - Watch what others do; when in Rome do as the Romans do. Stand to one side on the escalator like others do. Keep your feet off the poles when you sit. Make the children sit and behave. If you choose not to, do not yell at me when they get run over during rush hour. Little peeps are hard to see in a crowd. And for the love of Metro, DO NOT push that emergency talk button just because the lights go out for a second. Look around - anyone else looking fearful? nope... ;-)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Tourists may be a little clueless about how we do things around here, but keep in mind that people from most other parts of the world don't expect everyone they meet to be an a$$h0le. Give them a somebody figure out the system. We all know Metro won't help them.

Rizzz said...

Can Metro bring back those little signs they used to have on the escalators that said "Keep Right"?

Anonymous said...

Revisit your trip's budget and increase taxi expenses by 300%

Anonymous said...

Be neither an escaleftor nor an escalump - punishable on the first offense by the death stares of a wild mob of pissed off commuters, and on the second offense... well, make sure you have a will, receive last rites, and wear your body armor.

Telecomedian said...

My biggest tourist complaint - do not stop at the end of the escalators to try to get your bearings! I know Metro can be a scary, confusing experience, but there's not much worse than a fat married couple with their demon spawn stopping at the end of Metro Center's escalator at 5:30pm trying to figure out which exit is closest to that Hard Rock Cafe they've heard so much about.

Kara said...

1) I agree with the first post. Keep walking and mimic everyone else. When I am in a new city I *never* try to stand out as someone who does not know what they are doing (aside from asking for directions) or knows what the local unspoken rules are. Please do the same.

2) Do not stand on the left of escalators! Repeat that 3 times. No, the person in front of you ignoring the rule does not give you an excuse, SOMEONE is behind the first person who is standing on the left and can tell them to keep moving (then the person behind them does not have an excuse and on and on). Or do you really like it when a mob of commuters plows right into you and then gets hostile?

3) It is a nice day outside. DC is a small area. Walking is good idea (and, yes, I do it all the time).

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Washington.

While on the Metro, please pay attention to what is going on around you. It is OK to look lost, but not OK to be lost. Make sure you know where you are going BEFORE you enter the system. This will make it a more enjoyable ride for you and protect you from some of our less savory citizens that can spot you a mile away and really would like to take home that shiny new camera you are holding. Which reminds me, keep your valuables close, or better put away. You will see lots of folks with headphones. I would advise you not to wear yours. We are professionals, you are a target.

Take children by the hand (or the neck as the case may be) and make sure they are firmly planted when riding or in tow when not. Stay out of the main flow of traffic, especially at rush hour. You may not be in a hurry, but everyone else is.

Remember that DC is still a working city and it tends to work harder and faster than just about any city you have ever been in, including but not limited to Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

You cannot break the fare card machines, many have been broken for you, so step up, put your money in, put it in again, and again, push the button and take your card and HOLD ON TO IT. You need it to get in and out of the system. The red symbol on the turn styles mean you cannot go that way and the green arrow points to where you can go, so use the card slot on green arrow side and you will have no problems.

Step lively, but if you feel you must stand, please do it on the RIGHT side of the escalators.

And if you have a question, most of the commuters are a better, friendlier source of information than the guys in the booth.

Safe travels.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to DC we are glad you are here for a visit. Please don't forget that SOME OF US LIVE HERE AND WE HAVE PLACES TO GO!! STAND TO THE RIGHT, MOVE AWAY FROM THE DOORS, AND DON'T HOLD UP THE EXIT LINES! Have a wonderful time!

Anonymous said...

Please Please PLEASE do not stop at the end of the escalator to figure out where to go. The escalator doesn't stop and we all end up plowing into you. Move to the side out of the way to figure out where to go.

Ryan Eades said...

As a DC resident here's my advice - to other DC metropolitan residents - GET OVER YOURSELVES.

There are hundreds of little inconveniences we deal with in our lives. I for one do not mind a 90 day minor inconvenience that brings millions of dollars into my city.

We are lucky to live (and I actually LIVE in DC, not VA or MD) in a city that people want to come to and spend their money. Don't forget it.

So instead of shoving or bitching about being delayed by 30 or 90 seconds to get to your precious desk, take that time to reflect on how lucky you are to live here. Maybe thank a tourist for visiting or when you see them bent over the map on the Metro trying to figure out how many more stops until La Elephant Plaza, you could help em out. Heck, it might even brighten your oh so important lives, if only for a fleeting moment.

Unknown said...

I think WMATA should go ahead and print a small leaflet for tourists. It could just be called "Rules to Remember on Metro" or "Metro Etiquette." It could jsut briefly explain that one ought not to stand on the left on an escalator, eat food on the train or platform, put one's feet on a seat, or attempt to hold the doors for friends. Also, I completely agree that Metro needs to label its escalators.

Matt' said...

Dear Tourist,
When entering or exiting a Metro train, you MUST take AT LEAST 10 steps beyond the doorway. If you stop as soon as you get on or off of the train, others can't walk through you. If you think about this, it's a pretty obvious concept, even if you've never taken mass transit before.

Thanks for your tourism dollars.

Anonymous said...

And please don't fish for your fare card in front of the gates. Stand out of the way while digging through your fanny pack so us locals can get home and not feel grumpy about you.

Robin K said...

Downtown DC Metro stops are not that far apart. If you are only going a few stops it will probably take you more time to wait for a train then to just walk the few blocks.

Carrie said...

1) If you need help, ask - either a metro employee or another rider. Don't just stand in the flow of traffic and block the way. I know I'm always happy to give directions or explain how things work. I like Metro and I want you to like it to.

2) Learn when rush hour is and avoid traveling at those times if you can help it. If not, accept that it is crowded and you will have less personal space.

3) There is never any need to take the metro from Metro Center to Gallery Place (or vice versa). I know many metro stops are relatively far apart, but these aren't, so if you only need to go this one stop, then walk instead.

4) Stand to the right on escalators.

5) Look for the turnstiles with the green lights - those are the ones you can go through.

Megan said...

It's okay to be confused and to need to stop to get your bearings. Just be sure to do it while standing off to the side and not in the flow of traffic. And if you're standing looking confused while staring at your map, someone will likely take pity on you and offer advice. Or look for a friendly face. There are plenty of us happy to point you in the right direction.

And don't forget that Metro doors aren't like elevator doors. Those suckers hurt if they close on your arm. So be sure that you and all your party are in the doors on time. Don't let your kid get left behind!

Metro tickets go into the machine in the front and pop up at the top EXCEPT in the wheelchair accessible gates. There, the card goes in, pops out the same spot, and only then will the gate open. Don't lose your card, as you need it to get out.

Also, don't be offended when the WMATA personnel are unfriendly and unwilling to help you. They do that to all of us. (Though some are gems.)

Anonymous said...

Dear Eades poster - Tell that to the tourist who ends up touring the DC hospital because they stopped at the top of the escalator and rush hour plowed into them, having nowhere else to go as the floor is moving underfoot. This is not a "DC thing." It is an escalator thing and applies to any location having movable stairs, yes? :) Common sense, tourists. Especially with regards to the earlier post about being a visible target for unsavory types. Good point. And funnies of the day award to "Take children by the hand (or the neck as the case may be)..." !

Anonymous said...


Go home and tell your neighbors not to come here.

Mail you congresspeople and tell them Metro is so crowded that nearly everyone you bumped into with your sweaty pits (since you wear sleeveless T-shirts) complained that you were sweaty and stunk like a horse.

Stand and marvel on the left at the grey concrete nothingness and say out loud "We have nothing like this in (insert city, state here).

Marvel at how young everyone here is.

Pull your farecard out only once you get to the turnstile.

But most importantly, remember: You are on vacation. You can piss off the locals as much as you like, because you won't be here next week.

Wish you hadn't come. There is the business of the government you oppose to do.

David A. Lane, KG4GIY said...

What Sarah said, about the "Metro Guide." Metro does print them. The problem is they are only available at the kiosks. So, here is an idea for all the hotels. Get some and put them in the rooms. I am sure Metro would LOVE to help you out with this. So pick some up today on your way into work and pass them to the Concierge.

Ryan Eades said...

Dear Anonymous 9:28AM poster that replied to me (I'd use your name if you did, sorry.)

Of course stuff like that is common sense. You know what else is common sense? Knowing that its tourist season in the city you live in and having a little patience with your fellow human beings.

The safety and injury advice is good advice and worth sharing. But 80 percent of these comments are nothing but self-important bitching and moaning. I'd think its relatively obvious to most people THAT is what I was referring to in telling people to get over themselves.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tourists: it's public transit. Public. Meaning you're sharing space with other people. They paid their fares, just like you did, and they have as much right to be there as you do. If it's rush hour, it's going to be crowded and, as little as you like it, there's going to be physical contact. You might have to share a seat with someone you don't know. Sorry for the crowding, but this is a city and there are a lot of people here.

Matthew said...

Please know that we are intensely grumpy, Type A personalities all packed inside of little tubes and buses in the mornings. Don't make it harder on us than we think it already is.

Perfect usage of the Duane Hanson image too!

Kenny B. said...


Chill out. I think we can safely say no tourists are reading this blog. So let us, as the DC community, bitch about the escalator nonsense (most of them don't work anyway, so it's often a moot point) and build our sense of collective purpose for use after tourist season is over.

And, in my humble opinion, the comments are largely quite benevolent and helpful, rather than "self-important".

I too, am fond of the tourists. I find them both amusing, and a reminder of my pre-DC self. But that doesn't mean I'm happy with someone keeping me from catching my train. I don't want to hate them, so let us enlighten them.

Kara said...

Establish a plan for what to do when (no, not if) some of your party does not get on the train before the doors close. Meet at the next station? Meet at the station you got separated at? Meet at the hotel? Cell coverage is spotty, so do not rely on that in the plans.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tourists, please keep in mind we are forced to work and live around all those political types you see on TV. It's an amusing temporary entertainment moment for you. It's our daily world for us. 'nuff said. ;D

Meg McCormick said...

My advice would be more to Metro, who could really, really help tourists by making the farecard machines intuitive (I still sometimes falter even after 20 years) and the fare charts coherent. And that whole add 10 cents sticker? The tourists, they aren't seeing that. They're trying to read the chart.

Tip to the tourists: Don't be scared of the fare gates. Approach with confidence; don't hesitate. Pick one. Now, go. Please have your card out and ready. Kids, hold tight to yours, then Dad can collect them once you all clear the gates and get out of the way of others trying to enter.

Kids, I know you're all WHEE! TRAIN! when you're in the system, but you don't have to read each station stop out loud to the rest of your family, followed by "HOW MANY MORE STOPS, DADDY?" at every single station. Bring something to read. Relax. You'll get there.

Also, no twirling 'round the poles, please.

One last tip - based on something I witnessed recently. The SmartTrip card does not have to be aligned perfectly with the picture on top of the faregate in order for it to work. If it's not working, see the station manager.

Meg McCormick said...

"Metro does try to stem the impact of tourists by having day passes only valid after 9:30 a.m." - yes, but the signage is too subtle because that is all the station manager is explaining to the hoards at Shady Grove each morning.

It would help if tourists would check the website before coming to the station.

Anonymous said...

in response to Ryan's first post:

Yes, you live in the heart of DC, which means you don't have to deal with the headache that is our commute. On a good day, it's 40 minutes, including the trip to the metro station. During tourist season, and rush hour, i have to allow myself 2 extra hours for my commute. Usually the trip only takes 1 of those extra hours, but there are times where the metro needs to stop and wait on a train ahead of us because some flood of tourists that don't move to the center of the car, or is expecting the closing doors to spring open if they throw their bags in is holding us up. Being 2 hours late for school or work isn't a minor inconvenience: it gets you dropped from a class or unemployed.

Being trapped underground in the dark is no fun either.

My advice to tourists is to take a cab to the city, and just walk it. You can walk from one end of the city to the other in what, a half hour? 45 minutes? Besides, it's a fascinating walk on top of the exercise.

The metro needs a touch more work before we try to cram more people on it. Standing room only by the time you make it to Springfield when coming from DC or MD is a long time to be in high heels with a heavy computer bag and portfolio.

To the DC commuters: Give the tourists a break. A polite "Pardon me", or "You might want to step to the right, lest you get stampeded", or "North train is left, south train is right" can save a lot of hassle for both parties.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ryan Eades,

Nobody cares that you live in DC and not Arlington or Bethesda. GET OVER YOURSELF!

Good luck paying higher taxes, higher rent, living in an area with a higher crime rate, and not being able to vote in a meaningful election.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Ryan Eades. You make sense to me.

The best advice for tourists is that Metro sucks and so do a lot of petty, nasty locals...avoid it if you want enjoy your stay.

Anonymous said...

Those fare machine are a stumbling block for even a seasoned Metro pro. I'm pretty sure the cockpit of a 747 has fewer buttons.

Anonymous said...

You do NOT have to wait until the the gates close from the customer before you before you go through the entrance or exit gates. The gates do not have to close between customers (exception: the two-way handicapped entrances or exits). Do not pause when you get to a green-arrow entrance or exit.

Anonymous said...

Metro is DIRTY. Don't let your kids crawl around on the floow. EUGH.

keerjan said...

Don't stare at the man talking to himself.

TEXAS Tourist said...

Where did you get that picture of us? Too bad you didn't get the one where we were wearing our matching Lincoln Memorial sweat suits.... All the comments are so true. I plan never to take the Metro again, lest I commit an annoying sin or crime of passion.

J. Thomas said...

If I see a tourist or someone unfamiliar with the system, I talk to them.

If they're holding up the ticket line, I walk them through buying a farecard.

If I see someone in front of me stand to the left, I politely ask them to move over and explain why.

Being nice to people does actually generate results.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to second some of these.

I feel so bad for people who normally commute trying just to get a normal, unadulterated day pass. I feel like i need to get a certification or something to work one of those damn old school farecard machines, despite the fact that i am all too familiar with the smartrip machines.

Carry hand sanitizer, and no matter how tired you are, don't lean your head on the glass, for metro germs are epic.

Seedy pervert tourists: The urge to grope women on the train might be tempting, but i wouldn't advise it here. Sure, most women will acknowledge in a "you better have done that by accident" sort of way, but those PG County ladies will lay you out, and odds are good that no one will want to get in her way to help you. (nothing but respect for a 6 and a half foot tall lady standing calmly and gracefully in 4 inch stillettos on a moving train.)

Anonymous said...

Dear tourists, do not get grumpy with me when I simply, and very politely, ask you to behave like everyone else. I wouldn't hate you if, when I sweetly asked, "could you please stand on the right so people can pass by?" you moved over. You don't even need to apologize, just do it. However, if you mutter a grumpy "what's your hurry" I will tear you to shreds. If I kindly inform you that the door won't spring back open, and offer to help you pull your bag out, don't yell at me about your husband still on the platform and how he IS getting on this train. I will grab your bag, yank it out of the door, and snicker as you run down the car waving at him and then try to get your cell phone to work. If I nicely warn you that I've seen both children and other riders hurt when kids don't sit down or hold on, don't give me a lecture on your kids gymnastics aptitude and how they're allowed to play, they're kids, after all, or I will make sure the inevitable falling against me hurts A LOT. I start nice and end nasty, so don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Anonymous said...

I live in DC and my commute is not too tourist-heavy, but I cannot second the escalator comments enough. It is part of a larger issue (Metro is not too new-user-friendly), but seriously? It takes two seconds. Look around and see what everyone else is doing. if you're confused, step back. We'll all be much safer and happier as a result.

PS: This is not just petty complaining. I used to work for a downtown tourist destination and when folks go into "tourism mode," they somehow turn deeply inconsiderate. It was unpleasant to deal with major attitude all day, especially in the March/April period. Dear Tourists, we are glad you are here ... it is not that hard to be nice back.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Hefty stuff here. I pity tourists now even if/when they drive me nuts. Let's lighten up! Try this out! What'ya think tourist would think of this ride?

Metro mistakenly puts 14-car train into system
March 31, 2010 - 2:46pm

WASHINGTON - Something was definitely not right on Metro when a 14-car train pulled into the New Carrollton station Wednesday morning...

Anonymous said...

"I'm pretty sure the cockpit of a 747 has fewer buttons."

Now THAT's funny! And I have a question - is there a Certification for Farecard Purchasing Credentials class? I'll take it! 30 years riding and I agree - whaz wif all da dang buttons? And arrows! Arrows pointin' left.. arrows pointin' right.. is there really a slot to put my money in? Does it have buzzers and beeps too? Worse than a slot machine on steroids. ;-D

Anonymous said...

Welcome tourists! Ignore the selfish people's comments and pay close attention to the helpful ones:

* OBEY the right-side escalator and no stopping in front of the doors rules everyone has beaten to death so far-they're VERY important!

* Strollers-If you got 'em, wait til after rush hour to push 'em all around. Also refrain from blocking extra seats and doors with them.
Side note-if the child is too young to walk productively on it's own, keep them in the stroller and out of everyone's way.

* Commuters are NOT out to get you so long as you at least pretend to know what you're doing and understand that people LIVE here-locals are not visiters and should not be inconvenienced because you're not sure where you're going or where the next attraction is located.

* Should you find that you've mistakenly boarded a train going in the opposite direction from where you need to go, DO NOT decide at the last second to jump off as the doors are closing! Calmly stay on the train until it stops at the next station, then get off and ask someone how to find the right train.

* Read Metro's website ( carefully before attempting to use the system. If you're informed prior to getting there, you'll have a much better experience.

* Don't assume (if you take the train during rush hour) that you're entitled to a seat because you're a "guest." Pushing yourself into a seat on a cramped train that doesn't fit you only causes problems-follow what I call "The Johnnie Cochran Metro Seat Rule:" If your butt don't fit, you musn't sit! If you have to stand near the door, step out onto the platform when the doors open to let people off.

* Charging onto a train before ANYONE has had time to step out if it only makes people turn into psychos. Use common courtesy and let people out before you file in. LOCALS: guess what? Many of you are just as guilty of that one!

* Fashion Center (or Pentagon City Mall as you all call it) is NOT in DC, it's in Arlington, VA. What's with overcrowding that mall EVERY day?? If you must though, please pretend that you've seen a four-story high mall before and keep moving, preferably single-file too. Also refrain from turning the food court into a zoo. The zoo is located on the Red line!

schmod said...

An easier one:

At Gallery Place/Chinatown, note two things:

1) Many people here are trying to connect between the two lines. Don't clog up the stairs between the platforms.

2) Trains drive on the right, and pull to the end of the platform. People seem to clump together in one huge mess at the *wrong end of the platform*

Anonymous said...

No one's mentioned Metro's deplorable signage, but I think it's a major factor driving tourist confusion (and by extension delay). Consider when you're sitting on a brightly lit train how dark those station name poles are in the gloom of the platform, while the equally poorly lighted signs on the train-side wall are whizzing by and may or may not be near your window when the train comes to a stop.

Or consider - this happens to me all the time and I'm a veteran - when you get off the train from a less than usual direction, which end and which escalator will take you closest to the exit you're trying to get to. L'Enfant and Metro Center's lower levels could be vastly more informative about which directions lead to what.

I'll say it again - signage is terrible, lighting is too dim, and in a city of landmarks, you can barely tell what's above ground from your spot at trackside. No wonder everybody from out of town seems dazed and confused - the system is not user-friendly to newbies.

And a final note - I assume it's our hyperPatriotic, freedom-fries xenophobia that keeps us from putting more bilinugal signage in the train stations, but a little more multiculturalism would help keep the way-out-of-town tourists moving too.

To our tourists this season, welcome! Sorry the metro is worse than the Menotaur's cave.

Anonymous said...

"Here's my idea: SmarTrips only from 7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.*"

Get over yourself. Please.

Anonymous said...

am i the only one who hates interns more than tourists? i find tourists humbler and more endearing than interns, who act like opening their congressman's mail makes them masters of the universe. and they get messy, messy drunk all over metro, whereas tourists do not.

Unsuck DC Metro said...

@anon 8:46

Anonymous said...

totally agree with anon@ 1:01...interns are so annoying.

Anonymous said...

Interns are annoying and not all stations have trains driving in the right direction. At Bethesda trains pull in going in the left direction.

Anonymous said...

I second the lighting issue. How can tourists or anyone else read signs in Metro when the lighting is so poor? Maybe everyone should be given a miner's hat upon entering the system.

But, what really unnerves me are the people who lean over the edge of the platform looking for the train, while their children run and twirl and jump near the edge. I almost have a coronary watching them. In fact, I walk away and promise myself that I'll be a witness on Metro's side in the inevitable "wrongful death" lawsuit.

heatherfeather said...

Last night on the train, a 5 yr old boy was crawling around on the dirty carpet. Yuck-I hope that kid was decontaminated when he got home.

I wonder why Metro can't get more user friendly or touchscreen fare machines like London or Paris. One simply chooses the type of farecard and/or the designated stop and voila!. The machine tells you the cost. Much easier than trying to read the fare prices and then figuring out how much one needs to put in the machine.

Anonymous said...

Heatherfeather: ROTFLMAO!! Touch screens?? With what money?? Great idea, but until we have the system functioning MUCH MUCH better, touch screens are but a dream!!

Anonymous said...

It's OK folks, no tourists are actually reading this.

Anonymous said...

Dear tourist mommy,

Don't give your kids high fructose corn syrup before using the metro.


Anonymous said...

Methinks this Eades fellow is a spokesperson for Destination DC. Yeah, that's gotta be it.

CG said...

I know I'm way late on this, but I've found that the best thing a new metro rider can know is that the trains direction is designated by the final stop. It's not intuitive to a lot of folks. But once they know, it avoids a lot of delays.

Everything else is just politeness, which locals are just as guilty of.

Anonymous said...

Ok, tourists and locals alike: STOP IT with the "microphone coughing!" Balling up your fist then holding it 4 inches away from your mouth while coughing is NOT going to stop the germs. I got sick a few weeks ago after I got stuck on a packed train next to an idiot who coughed repeatedly without doing ANYTHING about it. Today during rush hour, the train car was like a chorus of people coughing, one after another; NONE of them adequately covering it. If you can't afford a $2 pack of travel tissues, at least have the common decency to cough into your shirt sleeve or something! GROSS!!

Anonymous said...

i read this about a month ago while searching for what i was going to do when i got to DC on my trip.

when i took the metro today i purposely did everything you all hated and it felt good man.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 9:08. LOL! I don't blame you. Look, tourists are annoying, but we've all been there. Instead of ranting about it here, maybe you should BREATHE. Yeah, it's annoying when they stand on the left of the escalator. SAY SOMETHING. A kind "Please stand to the right" will work just fine.

Honestly, the tourists are welcome entertainment. It's a nice change from the self-important dbags that think they own the underground.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that most of the people who REGULARLY use the metro are no better than the tourists. Just replace douchebagginess with confusion. It's all the same.

And let me add that I've had more of an issue with the a-hole kids that ride the red line regularly (you know who they are) than I have had with tourist kids.

Kevin said...

Lose some weight!

Anonymous said...

@9:08...a month ago, huh? Wanna check the post date of this piece, again?

@10:36...asking them nicely DOES NOT work over half the time. They either ignore you or make snide comments. I think you're mistaking who thinks they own the whole city, not just the underground portion of it.

Anonymous said...

Running to catch a train today during evening rush and family of tourists standing all over the escalator. First person says excuse me and they move over, only to move right back into he middle/left. Second person says excuse me and same routine...there was a whole line of people behind them, and each had to ask them to get out of the way! Slow learners much?

lanchid said...

How about don't eat and/or drink on the Metro. Eating on the platform counts. Giving the kid a sip of juice to occupy them counts. No eating and drinking on the Metro!

Anonymous said...

They should have monitors scattered all over the stations like they have at some airports with little informational videos on how to ride Metro. People just don't notice signs anymore; especially when they're hand-written in magic marker.

Ash said...


Please help me in a class project to improve DC metro ticket vending machines by taking this survey

Graduate student

Anonymous said...

While many of the comments above reflect the common sense you'd need to navigate any airport/subway system or otherwise crowded area, the tone is a little unnecessary. Unless you came out of the womb understanding the best, most efficient, and least obtrusive way to navigate the metro and pay for your ride, you should probably cut the hardworking family who is doing it for the first time a little slack. Your impatience speaks more to your self-centeredness and less to us being a drove of rubes who are lost in the "big city."

By all means, criticize those who are rude or don't respond to kind direction, but don't forget that the vast majority of us have navigated bigger cities successfully, have jobs that pay us well enough to travel for fun, and fund DC as you know it. Never mind the cash I'm spending to see the city for a minute. As important as you feel, chances are you're either on the federal teat or serving someone who is, and as such you are a constant drain on my paycheck. So next time you see someone who's out of place or in your way, remember that their presence in your city, while offensive to you, indicates that they're probably part of the productive class of citizens who fund your lives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-5/24, I'm not sure what your point is, or why you never tell us what it is you "produce." And sorry, but unless you pay 160,000 per year in federal taxes, you're actually not paying my salary.

Katelyn said...

This is less an inconvenience issue for me and a friendly helper for the tourists: Do Not Touch The Smithsonian Metro Station. Really. I mean it. I know all the helpful websites tell you that Museum X is convenient from the Smithsonian Metro stop, but it is an absolute NIGHTMARE in reality because every tourist is taking the same exit. Study Google Maps and figure out what's close. For example, the Air and Space museum practically sits on top of the 7th and Maryland exit of L'Enfant (exit, head north a block). The Botanical Gardens are closest to Federal Center SW. Even things that are closest to the Smithsonian station are within walking distance of less-packed stations. The walks from Gallery Place, Metro Center, Archives, and L'Enfant are all fifteen minutes or less and much more pleasant than the cattle-herding at Smithsonian. Leave that nonsense to the rush hour commuters.

Please keep yourself on your half of the seat. I'm overweight and I manage to do so, so your chiseled bro self can, too.
Please have a decent idea of where you're going before you get on (though I am always eager to help people who ask me questions when I wear my Metrorail map t-shirt).
Please don't lean on the poles when the train is crowded.
Please, please, please, PLEASE do not take your toddler in their stroller on the escalator. Yes, it irritates me that you always do it in the middle or to the right side, but more important is that it is DANGEROUS. I do not want to start my day to toddler brains on the platform. There are elevators. You're used to your children slowing you down, anyway -- use them.

n-ing the "please stay in your hotels before 9:30" sentiment, but without the "SmarTrip only" addendum. Don't forget those of us with weekly passes. My work's SmartBenefits incentive sucks, so it ends up being much cheaper for me to buy a weekly short trip pass and essentially get free rides outside of my work commute. I feel self-conscious enough using a paper card, thank you very much.

j. wilson said...

howdy folks, tourist here checking in to see if there was any insight on how to not look like a tourist when traveling the metro. gotta love the metro site itself, helpful much?

our biggest concern is how to approach the fare machine and what to expect, now i know i should expect to find myself in Wonka's glass elevator and will do my best to figure it out.

and since i personally wanna noogie anyone who STANDS on the left whether it is a sidewalk or elevator you can be assured i will have this maneuver finessed. i still wish i understood how the fare works. i just wanna see the Smithsonian.

hope to run into some friendly natives, thank you for sharing.

Samantha said...

My brief Metro Travel Etiquette guide:

a a said...


Go at non-peak hours to buy your card. Ask the station attendant for help if you need to; I've never had a negative experience with one. Have fun in DC.

I feel that it's pretty fun to get indignant during tourist season. I love feeling right. But I have to admit that I never once thought about making a polite suggestion to an erring tourist beyond "excuse me" to get by one. After reading this thread, I think I'll start being friendlier and more helpful on metro. And if anyone's rude about it, I can feel *really* self-righteous. Love it!

Anonymous said...

nothing i hate more than big dumb midwesterners with fanny packs, american flag t-shirts, and fat children with buzz cuts. go back to you stupid trailer parks and farms and leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

the funny thing is the cameras those "tourists" are wearing is worth more than they are.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tourists (Part 1),

Welcome to DC, and our shitty transit system: the Metro. Why is it "shitty"? well because riding it is always a "crap shoot" *rim shot* But take time to not be a major inconvenience to our lives, we can all get through the tourist season relatively unscathed. And by "unscathed", I mean maybe only being offloaded ONCE a day.

Please take time to read the maps of our system. Metro may look scary, but seriously, it is one of the easiest systems to navigate:

Step 1)Pick a destination. (Metro goes a lot of places in the DC-Metro Area...except places like Georgetown!)

Step 2)Find which color line you need.(5 WHOPPING CHOICES!! TWO AWAY FROM A FULL RAINBOW!)

Step 3) Find which direction you need to head towards (there are 10 possible options, not including the short-stops like Stadium Armory, Silver Spring, etc. fact, let's pretend I didn't mention these short-stops, too many options may short-circuit you.)

Step 4) Purchase a ticket. If this task seems so daunting to you, get a Metro station manager or kindly ask the person behind you. Just please get help. Don't stand there, scratching your heads and looking at the machine as if it's the final clue in solving the case in regards to the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa's body.

Step 5) Make sure you're going through a gate with a green light (or else you may be mowed down by an exiting commuter). Insert the paper ticket according the the direction the arrows are pointing; wait for it to either pop back out in the same slot, or pop up on top. If the gates open, you did this correctly... now MOVE. Don't just stand there in awe and wonderment. If you have a smart pass, tap it on the target...don't try to insert it where the paper tickets go.

Step 5) Get on train, if you're confused follow the signs. If you're further confused ask someone. We're friendly here in DC, despite what people like to snark about Washington...all native Washingtonians are natural-born tour guides the moment they become metro-savvy(P.S. I don't care if you originally are from Wisconsin, you've lived here for 3+'re now a "native".)

If for any reason you STILL can not navigate this system, or you think Metro is "so hard" (<- no joke, this was an actual complaint from a tourist), you're either directionally challenged and therefore a lost case, or your parents are most likely related.

Seriously. If you can't navigate DC's transit system, don't plan on visiting other cities like New least here, we don't have to remember which station and which side of the street we have to enter on to go in one direction. Here, if we're on the wrong platform, the correction is easily made by either walking to the opposite side of the track or taking a series of escalators.

Also, planning out your trip prior to getting on a metro train is also helpful. Not just so you know what stops you need, but also so you stop jerking around and elbowing me as you flail around looking for the nearest map.


Anonymous said...

...Dear Tourist (part2)

Oh, this is an unwritten rule, but it will save you from getting a lot of annoyed glares, if you understand that talking on the metro between the hours of 6-9am and 4-7pm, is prohibited (with the exception of days where there are Caps/Nats games...Then it's okay to talk then, only because WE want to talk).

I know you've had an EXCITING day at our FREE museums and saw a lot of COOL shit, and you're as hyperactive as a hypoglycemic squirrel that's eaten a snickers bar (don't blame you though, DC is an awesome city), but when you get into our trains and notice that everyone else is quietly reading, playing on their phones and what not: SHUT UP.

Sit down, tell your kids to stop playing "Princess Pole Dancer and Friends"and SHUT UP. You may be on vacation, but we all live here. We're going to/coming off of work and would appreciate a little respect.

Oh, and also voicing your revelations about "how friendly everyone is in DC /or how you really didn't think you'd meet courteous people in DC/Wow there are a lot of (insert ethnic group) here in DC," won't make you fast friends with anyone on the Metro. We can spot you tourists a mile away, and we usually look on at you with contempt (hey,we wish WE were on vacation) at your inability to act civilized on public transit and your escalator blocking ways. Voicing the above revelations only confirms to us that you are as ignorant as you appear.

Other than that, welcome to DC, enjoy our fair city. Mingle with the movers and shakers of the world...and get on with your life. Seriously, we move fast here, stay to the right, get what you need to do done, and get out.

A Native Washingtonian

Josh said...

There's not much I can add here in the way of directives... However, I think these should be narrowed down and combined to form one "Super Pamphlet" for tourists and made available outside of every metro.. 'Unsuck DC Metro's Guide to Unspoken Rules of the WMATA System'

Unknown said...

i hate when these touristis are just acting like cattle on the metro deaf dumb and blind lol there like cock roaches everywhere and just are a nusense to the folks in dc

Joe said...

If you see someone doing something that annoys you, let them know in a loud and boisterous voice with lots of harumphing.

Remember that because you live, work and commute here you are more important than any tourist that is bringing money into your city and you should treat them like dirt.

Or remember that because you are on vacation, you are more important than the people who work here, and they only exist to make your vacation more enjoyable.

Or we could all have patience and get along with each other, which honestly to me seems much more enjoyable and efficient to all.

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