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Understand proper Metro etiquette before you ride




Members of the Metro board of directors take a sneak peek ride from the Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica Stations on the new Expo Line extension on Monday morning, May 9, 2016. The line opens to the public on May 20.
Members of the Metro board of directors take a sneak peek ride from the Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica Stations on the new Expo Line extension on Monday morning, May 9, 2016. The line opens to the public on May 20.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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On Friday, the Metro Expo line expansion will officially open to the public.

For the first time, Angelenos will be able to go all the way to Santa Monica by rail. No traffic, no searching for a parking spot.

It's all pretty exciting. But let's face it: Los Angeles has a deeply entrenched car culture. We're not all used to having to share our commutes with a number of other people. 

And with sharing space, there comes a list of etiquette expectations that you'll want to understand before you rid the rails.

But never fear, Take Two's A Martinez is here to help. And since LA doesn't have a ton of experience with public transportation, he got an assist from another part of the country that does: New York.

Brian Lehrer is the host of WNYC's political affairs program, "The Brian Lehrer Show." He's got plenty of stories about improper public transportation etiquette that he's happy to discourage.

1. Blocking the door

This is especially annoying whenever the train comes to a crowded stop: Instead of moving to the center of the car or towards the seats like they're supposed to, there always seems to be one person who's only focussed on getting inside and stopping. This makes it more difficult for anyone else to get on, short of pushing the offending party out of the way.

"They do this without malice, but with no situational awareness," Lehrer says. "This happens so much that it makes me fret for human nature."

2. Eating 

In New York, eating on the light rail or subway trains is merely frowned upon. Here in Los Angeles, it's flat-out forbidden. It's something that Lehrer says he's struggled with. He says he's frequently drawn ire from his fellow passengers for eating while onboard.

"I wonder if it comes down psychologically to the old Pre-K dictum, 'If you bring enough for you, bring enough to share it with the class,'"

Sure everyone gets hungry, but trains move pretty fast at they can at times, so the chance that your drink or food will spill all over the floor is usually high. Leave the food contained.

3. Holding the door

It's understandable that someone might be rushing to catch a spot on the train at the last minute. It's even understandable that someone might have sympathy for their fellow rider and want to hold the automatic doors to let them on. 

Rider solidarity aside though, this is just an inconvenience to other riders and a delay in the schedule of the transit. Besides, there will be another train along in a few minutes.

4. Talking or playing music loudly

Before the advent of iPhones and earbuds, it wasn't uncommon to hear people bring their boomboxes and play their music so loud that the entire car could hear it. "Now it's not as much of a problem," Lehrer says. That's not to say that it doesn't happen, however. But it's something that's best left in the past.

With regards to loud conversations, it's important to remember to be as courteous as possible to your fellow riders. If someone is trying to sleep a seat behind you, it won't kill you to lower the volume of your conversation.

5. Panhandling 

Asking for money, selling things and performing for money on the metro isn't allowed and there are frequent announcements over the PA that say as much.  But anyone who's taken a train with any frequency knows that this is a natural occurrence.

Lehrer says that how you handle this largely depends on your own personal policies. "Some people who are very generous on the street will draw the line at giving in a Subway car," he says. "It's so annoying to have a parade of people [asking for money]."

These points of etiquette may be a bit much for some. There are probably some people who have considered giving the metro a try, but will be put off by the idea that they have to curb any of the behavior that they didn't have to in their car. For those, Leher has a timeless message to share:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The rest is just commentary."

To hear the full conversation click the blue player above.

Did we miss anything? Comment below and let us know what your biggest point of etiquette is on public transit.