What Is Proper Train Etiquette?

Don’t be that unmannerly train passenger. Make sure you have proper manners—and find out how to deal with those who don’t with these three tips.

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #158

The other day I received a text from my buddy Jason saying, “I’m on the train right now and you HAVE to do a MMG article on train etiquette--it’s like a freak show on here!”

That was his first text; the others--which I received about every five minutes--not only cracked me up, but also made me eager to tackle train etiquette.

How to Deal with Rude Train Passengers

In the classic movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” John Candy and Steve Martin take every means of transportation and nearly kill one another because of Candy’s very unmannerly behavior along the way. I think of that movie every time I hop on a train and see all kinds of rude behavior. So, are you one of those people other passengers shake their fists at? Find out with my three rules for proper train etiquette.

Tip #1: Use Your Inside Voice

In previous articles I’ve touched on people’s willingness to loudly share their phone conversations with everyone around them, but once again I’m shocked to see it on the train.  I mean, at least when a person screams on the phone in a supermarket, you can quickly walk down a different aisle or even go outside. But on a train, you are trapped. And not only can’t you leave, you are sometimes so close to someone, you can smell what they had for lunch. Two hours ago.

So train passengers, please, do what your kindergarten teacher taught you and use your inside voice.

And what’s my tip if you are subjected to a loud passenger? Well, it might surprise some of you. And that’s because where I’d normally advise you to stand up and  take mannerly action, this time I say remain quiet as a library. 

Here’s the deal, when someone is so inconsiderate that they lose track of where they are, what they are doing, and who is watching them, there is nothing you can do. I don’t care who you are, if someone is so loud (and possibly angry) on the phone, you don’t want to confront them. It’s best to simply move your seat and if you can’t, try focusing really hard on your book or your phone like you were reading the secret of life.

The last thing you want to do is politely approach the person only to have him or her lash out at you and lead to a very unfortunate situation—for you and those around you.

Tip #2: Offer Up Your Seat

One of the rudest things people can do is not offer up their seats to someone who needs it more than they do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a train and seen a pregnant woman, an elderly person, someone with a disability, or a young child all stand while others sit and watch. I mean, what has the world come to? It’s even worse when able-bodied people are sitting in those seats reserved for disabled people and they still don’t get up. If this happens to you, get up!