The London Underground, endearingly referred to as the Tube, is renowned around the world for its efficiency and convenience. Locals and tourists alike take the Tube to avoid London traffic and expensive London cabs. Although it’s not perfect, the system has definitely made London an easier place to get around!
If you’re going to ride the Tube while in London, there are a few things that you have to remember. Failing to abide by the unwritten rules of the Tube could get you in trouble with the locals. Read below to find out what you should and shouldn’t do on the Tube.
10 Stand On The Right While On The Escalators
There’s one major unwritten rule that Londoners will not thank you for not abiding by. When you’re riding the escalator down to catch the Tube, make sure you always stand on the right-hand side. The left side is strictly for moving traffic only.
That means that if you’re in a major hurry and you’re rushing down the escalator, you walk down on the left. But at all other times, you stand on the right. Standing still on the left stops people who are in a hurry from getting through.
9 Have Your Ticket Ready To Go
There’s another surefire way to make Londoners grumpy when you’re a tourist catching the Tube. That is by taking a long time to get through the ticket barriers. By the time you fumble around in your pocket for your ticket, get it out, work out which way to hold it, and finally scan it, several people could have gone through.
You might get away with doing this when it’s not so busy, but don’t even think about it during peak hour. All those commuters who are getting ready for a big day at work, or who have just had a big day at work, will quickly put you in your place. Have your ticket ready to go before you get to the barrier.
8 Don’t Rush On Before People Have Gotten Off
This is etiquette that applies to all public transport and not just the Tube. In some countries, there seems to be a culture of rushing on carriages as soon as they stop, but that’s just not the case in London. This is the land of politeness and queuing, after all!
When the train stops, wait for the passengers who are already riding to get off. It makes no sense for you to rush on before they’ve had a chance to get off. And if there are already people waiting to get on before you, line up behind them.
7 Don’t Cause A Scene During The Ride
If you’ve ever ridden the New York City subway, you may have witnessed performers and artists singing and dancing on the train carriages. That sort of thing will not be well received in London. As a general rule of thumb, try to make yourself as invisible as possible. Don’t cause a scene and don’t disturb other passengers.
Most people will have their earphones in or will be reading something, so you’ll know that they’re not up for a chat. Londoners can be really friendly, but the place to strike up conversation is not the Tube.
6 Like Any Other Public Transport, Give Up Your Seat When You Have To
Again, this doesn’t just apply to the Tube, but to all forms of public transport, in London and elsewhere. If you’re sitting in a priority seat, you have to give it up to those who need it more than you, no matter how tired you are. That means the elderly and pregnant women, as well as anybody with a physical ailment or disability.
If you’re sitting in the priority seat, you should be routinely looking throughout the carriage after every stop to make sure that a priority passenger hasn’t gotten on the train.
5 Hold Your Bag On Your Lap
Unless you’re sitting in an empty carriage, it’s mostly unacceptable to leave your bag on the chair beside you. Seats are for passengers, not property. The best thing to do is hold your bag and any other belongings on your lap so the seat beside you is free for another passenger.
If you’re standing and you have a backpack, the proper etiquette is to take the backpack off and hold it between your feet. This way, there’s much more room in the carriage for other people to stand.
4 Avoid Eating Smelly Food
The Tube has been known to feel like a deathtrap when the weather is hot outside. It’s not exactly known for being a spacious, breezy experience, and the lack of fresh air can be nauseating to some people. Don’t make it worse by eating food that has a strong smell.
The wafting scent of your food combined with the stuffy atmosphere combined with the movement of the carriage could easily make someone else sick. It’s best to just wait until you’re off the train to start eating your food or bring a snack that won’t cause a scene.
3 Always Move Down The Carriage When You Can
This is a rule that especially applies to peak-hour travel. If the carriage that you’re standing in is filling up, you should always move down the carriage when it’s possible to. According to On London, if you don’t take the initiative and move, another passenger will shout at you to move anyway.
Moving down the carriage creates more room for new passengers to get on. Of course, sometimes it just won’t be possible. But when it is possible, you should. And if you’re the passenger trying to get on a full carriage, only get on if there’s actually room for you. If not, wait for the next train. All Londoners know that!
2 Pay Attention When You’re Walking On The Platform
The proper etiquette for the Tube extends beyond the actual train ride. You also have to act a certain way when you’re traveling through the stations and on the platforms. When the platform is crawling with people, the last thing you should do is abruptly stop without any warning. This will definitely make the people behind you curse you under their breath, if not to your face.
From a safety perspective, it’s really important to always be aware of your surroundings. Carelessness could put you or another passenger in danger.
1 Don’t Push And Shove People
This goes without saying. As hectic as the Tube can be at certain times, you won’t make it any faster or more efficient by pushing and shoving people. If you’re in a major hurry and the carriage that pulls up is totally full, it’s better to wait for the next one than try and squeeze on.
The same politeness that Brits maintain in other areas of life applies to the Tube. Always remember your manners when riding and think of the other passengers as well as yourself.