WMATA: “We ask customers to refrain from walking or running on our escalators”

by Prince Of Petworth July 10, 2012 at 10:30 am 129 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

“Dear PoPville,

Tired of constantly having to ask people to stand on the right, I wrote WMATA to suggest that they post signs instructing escalator riders where to stand and where to walk. All I can say is…seriously?!”

Original email to WMATA:

It would be a tremendous improvement to MetroRail if there were signs posted at the top and bottom of each escalator instructing riders to “STAND RIGHT, WALK LEFT”

Similar signs at airports have greatly improved the safety and speed with which people move through an area (which in turn would improve WMATA service for all).

This easy fix is especially important given the high number of tourists in DC who have no idea that they should stand on the right.

“STAND RIGHT WALK LEFT” signs would also improve the image of WMATA in the eyes of DC residents by demonstrating WMATA’s interest in implementing a ready solution to the ongoing problem of escalator congestion.

Response from WMATA Rail Customer Service:

Thank you for contacting Metro’s Rail Transportation Customer Service regarding escalator protocol. While standing to the right on escalators and leaving the left side open for walkers has been an unwritten rule for regular Metro riders, a safety code for elevators and escalators prohibits any signs except required safety warnings.

WMATA does not encourage walking or running on escalators. The majority of escalator-related accidents occur when customers walk or run on escalators. Standing is the safest way to ride an escalator. We regret the inconvenience caused by customers who may block the escalator passageway; however, for your safety and the safety of all customers, we ask customers to refrain from walking or running on our escalators.

Thank you for your suggestion and for your patronage. To speak to a Rail Transportation Customer Service Representative for Comments, Complaints or Suggestions, please call 301-562-4605 weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. You can leave a message at all other times or complete the comment form located on our website at www.wmata.com.

Any chance the safety code can/will ever be amended? Council Member Bowser? Council Member Wells? I can understand asking customers not to run on the escalators but explicitly asking them to refrain from walking on the escalators is outrageous.

  • Kvatch

    “…however, for your safety and the safety of all customers, we ask customers to refrain from walking or running on our escalators.”

    What absolute nonsense! Especially from an organization that is constantly challenged by keeping the damn escalators running in the first place.

    • Anonymous

      They don’t want you to walk because it greatly increases the wear and tear on the escalators.

      • Kvatch

        “…greatly increases the wear and tear,”? I doubt that–slightly…maybe–but I’m willing to be convinced. does Metro have objective statistics on that? And if so, why don’t they just say that in order to bolster their argument?

        • Anonymous

          I don’t know, but I used to work for the ad agency that did metro’s work and they told us not to create anything that encouraged walking because it was hard on the escalators.

          • C3PO

            What about the “Escalefters” signs that were posted in the train cars only a few years ago?

  • Dammit Metro, that actually makes sense.

  • Boy, I sure will be standing on those escalators for a long time! You know, since many of them don’t move.

    • E&T


    • BT

      +100000000000000000 *ZING*

  • probably a liability issue. It’s not like they’re stopping anyone from walking on the left. It’s not TOO much of a hassle to politely say “excuse me” to a tourist. Heck – might even improve the image of our city. Isn’t DC listed on one of those “rudest city in America” lists?

    • Matty G

      It wouldn’t be that big of a deal to say “excuse me” to a tourist if they didn’t feel the need to give attitude when you do. I never understand why tourists feel the need to be snide when you ask them to move over that includes the sidewalk. Heaven forbid they realize that not everyone in this town is on vacation and has all the time in the world to walk at a snails pace or stand for 5 minutes on the slow moving escalators. Plus some of us actually want the exercise of walking up the escalators. I know I do.

    • Sarah

      Well, when tourists snap at me or tell me no or ignore me when I say “excuse me,” I get really frustrated. It’s not just DC residents who are rude.

      • I don’t consider it rude to refuse to rearrange and my belongings so that you can get to the top 20 seconds sooner.

        I politely respond “oh, i’m sorry, it would be difficult for me do that right now.”

        • Anonymous

          And then I will push past you. Carefully, and making sure that I will not knock you down. And with the minimum possible physical contact.

          • you would have to move my wheeled bag which i place next to me. short of stepping over it, you’re kinda stuck, i think.

          • anon

            Put the bag in front of you or behind you if there’s space available, which I realize sometimes there isn’t. If you slow down a little bit when you get on the stairs, you can leave a spot for your bag. No one will mind. Blocking the whole way is inconsiderate even if no one is behind you.

        • But it is rude not to make sure your belongings aren’t in someone else’s way to begin with.

          • Sarah

            Matt, why do you appear proud to put your belongings in a place where you know others will run into them and ask you to move? Politeness goes both ways, and the escalator isn’t there just for you.

          • @Sarah (sorry, can’t seem to reply directly to your post) it’s because I have been jostled too many times with folks pushing past me. Many folks, of course, are polite and can seem to walk past without incident. However, a number of folks can’t seem to do that. They lumber up the steps, knocking into things as they go past. Or their laptop bag swings into my back as they lurch by.

            My bag with the long handle extended, sitting next to me on the step, does a good job of ensuring that folks don’t run into me.

            I realize it’s public transit and not my private conveyance, but I don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate for me to try to have an “elbow free” commute. If the rules permitted passing on the left and there was a little yellow line down the middle of the escalator, i think I would have to keep myself to the right. However, that clearly isn’t the case.

            (Also, I don’t typically frequent stations with long escalators, so I can’t say what I’d do if there was a three minute ride to the top. Mine are much shorter.)

          • Anonymous

            It sounds like Matt is a real a**hole. I bet he is a republican and works for a bank.

        • Shawguy

          To which I would (and more than once, have) reply “Oh, that’s no problem! Here, let me help you”, pick up your wheeled bag, place it on the step in front or behind you, and go on with my day. If you get pissed at me for touching your bag, I’d point out that the signs clearly say no bags or strollers on escalators (elevators only, folks) and that if you had followed the rules, you wouldn’t have a problem. If you hadn’t been a jackass about not following the rules, you still wouldn’t have a problem. But you didn’t follow the rules, acted like a jackass about it, and in doing so lost your right to get pissy. Then I’d smile and tell you to have an AWESOME day! And no, the police wouldn’t come, and I wouldn’t wait for them anyway, to let you file a complaint about someone “helping” you with a bag you obviously couldn’t manage yourself.

          • anon

            I think we should be friends.

          • Gia

            If you did that to me, there’s a really good chance I’d fall. I use my bag for added balance, so I put it where it serves that purpose best, especially on longer escalators. Inner ear disorders are a beast.

            Not to mention, you put your hand on my bag, I’m going to assume you’re trying to steal it and I’m going to respond accordingly, including shoving you as hard as possible away from me and my belongings because you’re now acting with what can only be assumed is criminal intent toward me.

            Keep your hands to yourself. You’re not entitled to the step I am on, nor to move things that don’t belong to you. Kindergarten children know that. If riding up an escalator is the breaking point between on time and late in your commute, take an earlier train.

          • Sarah

            Gia, you aren’t entitled to the full step when the common, accepted Metro etiquette says you stay on the right and don’t block the left. If you have such problems, then you need to take the elevator if it’s working.

        • C3PO

          Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder, and are being purposely obstinant.

        • I’m sure lots of rude people don’t consider themselves rude. Congratulations!

    • yeah – I’ve been snapped at too. It’s not all that pleasant. But it’s sort of a cycle: tourist gets snapped at by DC rez for standing on the left and gets angry that they were snapped at when they didn’t know what to do, and then snaps at the next DC rez who asks (politely or not). Or: DC Rez gets snapped at by tourist after asking nicely and then snaps at other tourists.

      So what to do….try to keep patient, recognize that tourists don’t typically know the “rules,” and maintain some level of civility. I too like to walk, and it is frustrating when you are trying to get somewhere, but what does being a jerk to someone else get you?

      • Andy

        The chain of screaming starts at the top. Arthur’s boss’s boss screams at Arthur’s boss. Arthur’s boss screams at Arthur. Arthur screams at you. You go home and scream at Lily. Lily screams at one of the kids in her kindergarten class. Then that kid screams at her dad, Arthur’s boss’s boss. And the whole thing starts all over again, Thus completing the circle of screaming.

        • newtodc

          Ha! Yeah, Barney knows all about it.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. It’s a liability issue. They don’t actually care if you walk on the escalators, and they might secretly hope that you do walk, and to the left. But they are never going to have a sign or policy that says that you should walk on them. Otherwise, when someone walks and falls, they will sue on the basis that Metro warranted it is safe to walk on them and asked people to do so. Remember how those audio recorded messages were phrased? Something like “New to Metro? You may have noticed that most people stand to the right on the escalators.” They never actually said you should walk on them, to the left or otherwise. It’s not “nonsense” or “outrageous” or any other such superlative being uttered here. (Get over the vapors, people.) It’s just the society we live in.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. Then why not signs that simply say “Stand on the right”?

    • Haile Unlikely

      I don’t know if you all just come off like a bunch of d!cks, or if tourists just love me, or what, but I’ve been politely asking tourists to allow me to pass several times every day for nearly ten years and the number of times I can recall being snapped at in response is something like three. In retrospect, two of those times, I was having a bad day and probably came off as somewhat less polite than I had imagined myself to be. That leaves probably about one unearned tourist snap in about a decade. Yeah, I think you all just come off as a bunch of d!cks.

      • Matty G

        I don’t think we are being dicks. What I mean is after I politely ask them to move, they do so. However, after I start to pass them, they make snide comments to the other people in the party about how much of rush I appear to be or that they just don’t understand why I might want to walk up the escalator or pass them on the sidewalk. I am sorry I like to walk up escalators for the exercise. The escalators are not a fun ride at Disney.

        I have seen the whole stand on the right, walk on the left all over the world. It isn’t just here where people will ask you to move aside so they can walk by.

        • VeteranRider

          So the people move out of your way when you ask, and then make comments? Dude – get a thicker skin; you got what you wanted, who cares if they snark? Think of them as feuture PoP readers.

        • BitterElitist

          Holy Shit! Yesterday, I wanted to snap at someone: “This is not the god damn monorail!”

  • Meg

    This makes no sense. WMATA ran ads about this, requesting customers stand to the left. WaPo article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/10/AR2007081002350.html

    There were announcements made over the PA system too. Does anyone else remember this? I can only presume they’ve changed their policy.

    • I’m pretty sure this is a legal issue stemming from someone at WMATA trying to avoid litigation risks. I always thought it was strange that the announcements said “You’ll notice most people stand on the right…” without just saying “stand right, walk left,” but in light of this response from WMATA I’m sure they’re worried someone will fall and sue.

      • Yeah, I think the “you’ll notice” language was crafted precisely to sidestep the (perceived) liability issue.

    • Anonymous

      Ha! That was the first thing I thought of also. I challenge Metro to produce in writing this alleged “Safety Code.” I suspect it only appears in an Metro manual.

      • VeteranRider

        There are national safety standards for escalators, just as there are national building codes (including specialites like electrical work or plumbing work) and highway safety codes, etc. These codes are adopted in full by governments (or in this case WMATA) and apply in all to projects under their jurisdictions. It is generally not a matter of picking and shoosing which aspects are adopted. The safety standard in this case strictly limits the amount, type, and topic of signage on the escalators, which is why Metro cannot install “Walk on the Left, Stand on the Right” signage. Whether or not people actually do walk on the left and stand on the right is a Metro policy.

    • It makes perfect sense, if they’ve changed their policy. That article was five years ago so it’s entirely possible that after how many broken-down escalators and a few alarming escalator accidents that they’ve altered their party line.

  • I can understand if the escalators moved a little faster metro would not encourage walking or running but they move so damn slow. Stand right walk left works well on London’s tube and the escalators move twice as fast.

  • Trinidaddy

    litigation celebration!!

  • Lol, this is up there with the announcements where they “allow” you to drink water. WMATA disconnect from reality = not surprising.

  • Anonymous

    So what’s with their Escalefter and Escalump campaign from a few years ago?

  • KellyKaipo

    So what happened to their ‘Escalefter’ and ‘Escalump’ campaign from a few years ago?

  • Mike Madden
  • Right then. I’m going to start hanging out near the escalators wearing a sandwich board reading, “Walk left, Stand right”. Every day a different metro station. Every hour a different escalator. Just Me versus the Tourists (and people who have lived here their entire lives but hardly ever ride the metro).

  • Marcus Aurelius

    A Metro policy encouraging or even acknowledging that people run on its escalators would be a great exhibit for the plaintiffs in the next lawsuit filed by someone injured while running on the escalators, or injured by someone else running on the escalators.

    Maybe the best solution to the problem of “escalator congestion” is to realize that the five minutes you save “walking on the left” rarely makes a difference.

    • I usually walk down on the left in the afternoons because the escalators at Dupont are so incredibly stifling hot from the sun, and I don’t want to stand in the sun behind some sweaty guy any longer than I have to. I’d rather get into the shade faster.

    • Anonymous


      As frustrating as it might be when you want to walk up the escalator and someone (tourist or not) is standing blocking your way, I think WMATA is doing everything to prevent liability issues. Sound extreme? Considering how people sue for practically anything like stubbing their toe, I’d say this response is to protect them from potential lawsuits. Given that if they were to be sued, imagine more fare hikes, etc. to pay for the *budget shortfalls*

      What’s so hard about speaking up and saying, “Excuse me.”

    • Kam

      Not true. The difference between standing and walking could easily be a missed train which at the end of the day could be up to a thirty minute or more difference if you are connecting to other trains (depending on how they are running or if you just missed them because you missed that first train because you were standing)…

    • primafaba

      I have to agree with Kam on this one. I catch the 5:30 VRE back from the city every day. I get off at 5 and have to ride a few stops up the Metro to get there, but normally there is enough time. However, there has been more than one day where (1) trying, and failing, to politely get around escalefters at Metro of origin, followed by (2) trying, and failing, to politely get around escalefters at Union Station, followed by (3) trying, and failing, to politely get around those same large groups who get off the escalators and proceed to just STOP at the fare gates, in the hallways, etc., not to mention (4) the Amtrak-bound folks who just STOP on the escalators down to VRE, results in me missing my train. That means waiting another 40 minutes for my 60+ minute ride home, which does indeed make a great difference in the commute. When I work nights, making the right Metro out to Vienna might be the difference between hitting track work and getting home at a decent hour. I make it a rule not to shove past anyone on the escalators, and if desperate I always interrupt with a polite “Excuse me,” followed by, “I’m so sorry, but I’m trying to catch my train,” and am inevitably met with rudeness (and a refusal to move) even in cases of individuals hanging across the escalator with no baggage and no reason they couldn’t squeeze aside 2 inches.

  • The Jimmy

    And you wonder why WMATA has problems with their system.

    I guess asking WMATA to simplify the metro fare ticket machine instructions so the tourist and understand and get their fare cards is out of the question.

  • Yeah, this is total BS — fear of liability gone wild.

    I think they crafted the language in their recorded announcements (“you may have noticed that most people stand on the right”) so they couldn’t be sued for supposedly encouraging people to walk on escalators.

    It’s annoying when tourists clog the escalators, but without proper signage from Metro, they don’t really know any better. It’s ridiculous that Metro can’t do like the London Underground and post little signs along the escalators saying “Please stand on the right.”

  • JustinDC

    On the back of the paper cards it says “Stand to the right. Hold onto the railing”

    So they’re kinda already do have it out there.. saying you can’t walk on a stair is silly.. they should say walk, but use hand rail.

  • You must be new here (TM). This has long been their policy and official response.

  • That was six years ago. Possible that since then they have changed their line, no? Companies do that sometimes.

  • fz

    To avoid litigation issues, how about a sign that says:

    Stand on the right, walk of the left*

    *at your own risk

    • or, “if you dare. . . muahahaha!”

  • anonymous

    I’d guess that the difference between the “walk left, stand right” idea of a few years ago and the “don’t walk” idea of today was caused in part by the fact that several people died on a Metro train a year or so ago, and that a couple of years ago a number of Metro buses ran over pedestrians. Naturally these were not seen as good things. There’s probably a general feeling that liability should be reduced. The end result slows me down, but it does make me think that there’s now a thinking person working there.

    • Josh

      I think it’s less to do with those accidents, but more to do with the one where the escalator suddenly stopped and several people were injured….

  • downing street memo

    You know, you can always just ask the tourists to move over. It’s really not that difficult.

    Or, you could remind yourself that you’re really not that important, that you honestly don’t have anywhere that important to go, and relax a little bit. Either one.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always wondered why they don’t rip out all (except Woodley/Dupontish) escalators and replace them with stairs. It would save WMATA millions of dollars and help a lot of people get into shape. Nom sayin?

    • I love stairs personally, but this would be a terrible idea. Do you know how slowly some people climb stairs? The escalators (when operational) at least guarantee a minimum amount of passenger movement – stairs would be a complete mess.

      I would like to see at least one set of stairs in addition to escalators. But then again, I’ve seen some pretty appalling stair etiquette in Metro stations, so we’d probably just be complaining about that too.

    • Anon

      Because not everyone hass the same physical capabilities or is able to navigate stairs easily and safely, especially older adults, children, and people with disabilities.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think you’re taking into account that the stairs become at least twice as long if they’re not moving. So even if you think you’re fit because you can walk all the way up Woodley’s escalator with relative ease, if it’s stopped, your journey becomes MUCH longer. I guarantee you wouldn’t be happy if it was 100° out and you were on your way to a meeting.

  • Idiots. Metro’s escalators are the slowest escalators I’ve ever been on, and that includes certain subway systems such as Paris or London. I don’t see anyone falling or putting themselves in danger on those escalators, and less people walk. It takes >3 minutes to take those escalators on Dupont, which is ridiculous – why not make it twice as fast?

    • Anonymous

      because all it would take is one of our many 400lb people to fall whilst trying to get on the fast moving escalator and they would file a lawsuit that would put the end to that.

  • OP needs to recalibrate his or her understanding of the word “outrageous.”

    Trying to enlist councilmembers to weigh in on this trivial issue? Sheesh.

    • If I’m not mistaken, that final paragraph was PoP’s editorial comment, not part of the OP’s e-mail to PoP.

  • Joel

    Clearly the WMATA person who wrote this isn’t observant or hasn’t worked at WMATA for long (leaning towards the first theory). I’ve personally seen signs posted on the metro cars themselves that allude to this unwritten rule.

    The sign was formated like a dictionary entry and read “Escalefter: A person who stands on the left side of the escalator instead of the right.”

    • As noted in a post above, that ad campaign was about 6 years ago. I’m not sure how long they ran those signs, but I haven’t seen them in ages. So again, I would not be surprised if the party line has changed.

  • amr

    It is especially interesting to me which safety codes metro cherry-picks to follow.

  • Matt

    It’s like this person specifically wrote this WMATA response with the idea of trolling PoP commenters.

  • Grand Funk

    We’re all too fat

    • enuggets

      This is to perpetuate diabetes, WMTA also recommends eating Bugels on the train.

      • an

        Oh man, Bugles are SO GOOD.

        • Anon

          I go to Rite Aid cause it’s the only place Ii can find Bugles!

  • Anon X

    Let me get this straight… WMATA is supposed to put up signs so that you dont have to actually interact with the person who is inconveniencing you? If you want them to move, then ask. If they’re a dick about it, than thats on them. You only lose 20 seconds of your life, their entire life is probably miserable.

    • Talking directly to the escalator-blocker works only if there are just one or two escalator-blockers ahead of you.

      When you have an entire school group occupying both sides of the escalator, there isn’t enough room on the escalator for everyone to move to the right, even if you asked each of them one by one as you went up.

      Signs would prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

      • Anon X

        I think you’re vastly overestimating the effectiveness of signs.

        • They work pretty well in London — on the rare occasion I have to say “excuse me” to an escalator-blocker there, the person is usually a tourist speaking a language other than English.

          • It’s the people, not the signs. Signs only work if people read them and follow them.

      • You really think so? Just like the existing signs prevent people from eating/drinking and listening to music without headphones?

        • Point taken. But I think most tourists would be willing to comply, even if scofflaw-type locals wouldn’t.

          • Fair enough, but I tend to think that even if the tourists fell in line we would still be routinely frustrated by the locals who should know better but don’t give a ****. (OK, maybe that’s harsh. Maybe they’re just not paying attention or awake yet, or perhaps just oblivious.)

          • Anon X

            if this was the biggest and most pressing issue on the metro, I’d agree. But, since they keep raising fares and still suck, maybe they should save the sign money and put it towards not sucking.

  • Snarky

    Customers: “We ask WMATA to refrain from single-tracking or reducing service on our weekends.”

  • neednewhob

    WMATA needs to take a page from the London Underground. There are signs everywhere saying Stand on the Right, Walk on the Left. Simple as that.

    • anonymous

      WMATA has a long way to go before they can compare to the London Tube: In London, the trains run on time, the PA is audible, and the train operators have wonderful elocution so that you can actually understand what’s being said.

      • Sir Douchy

        Er, not sure which London Underground you’re referring to – I just checked tfl.gov.uk and the Metropolitan Line indicates “Severe Delays” while the Piccadilly Line is “Part Suspended.” I’d choose another model before I picked London, maybe Pyongyang instead.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for cracking open the “grass is always greener” perspective. I’ve experienced this with the London tube – delays and rerouting or lack of running on this line. In fact, where most of the lines weren’t running. It happens everywhere – great system or not. And this was within the last year, not recounting something from year’s past.

        • ew

          Moscow. When I stayed there at the university which is somewhat of an outer stop, we still had train service every minute on the minute. Granted, a paranoid madman oversaw the infrastructure construction, but still…talk about efficient!

    • Anonymous

      Those signs are for AMERICANS.

  • notpostingtooquickly

    THIS. MAKES. SENSE. Just ask people to move aside instead of trying to make Metro pay for signs. You know they don’t have any money. Your signs won’t make metro look good. They will make you look good. NEXT.

  • anonymous

    Several years ago I was going down the Dupont north escalator (the long one) and saw two tourists coming up, the mother holding onto both sides with a death grip, as though she might tumble down to the bottom if she let go, and the child was likewise holding onto the mom. A guy walks up behind them, politely says excuse me, and the mom yells hysterically, “Do you mind! We are scared s**tless!” Everybody on the escalators erupted in laughter.

    • LOL! Great anecdote.

    • maria

      Awww, that’s kinda cute. I remember also at Dupont North, there was a family of 3 or 4 people standing on the top of escalators and trying to talk their 80 year old grandma on stepping on it. She was terrified!!!!

      • Sweetspimd

        Then put grandmama on the elevator, same with the hysterical mother and child. Did they fail to notice that the escalator was long before getting on it?

  • Sarah

    On the front page of Metro’s website, they have a story on summer safety. It includes this advice:

    Pick up your feet and step carefully on or off the escalator.
    Exit promptly from the escalator. Never stop, stand or play at an escalator landing as this can cause a dangerous pileup.
    On Metrorail, it is customary for riders to stand to the right while using escalators.


    • SavageHal

      The use of the word “customary” is clever. This probably keeps them out of trouble in terms of liability since WMATA is not explicitly encouraging this behavior. They are just stating an observation. Posting signs with the same wording, on the other hand, might be seen as encouraging this behavior and might lead to lawsuits.

      • VeteranRider

        Although you are probably right about the use of “customary” to avoid liability, since Metro is not actively encouraging or requiring poeple to walk, it is not related to the signage. The signs are specifically prohibited by thte national safety standards of the escalator industry which apply to Metro’s escalators. Whether or not to encourage walking is a choice Metro makes; putting up signage is something Metro is not allowed to do.

        • SavageHal

          Ahh, I didn’t realize there were national standards with regards to escalators. Makes sense. Thanks.

        • What about the “no bikes” decals at the foot of the escalators?

          Or the temporary easel-type signs saying “No strollers on the escalator” that Metro staff sometimes puts up at the foot of the Woodley Park escalators?

  • anon

    is there a reason my post was removed for questioning whether asking passengers to refrain from walking on the escalators rises to the level of “outrageous”? I don’t think that’s “outrageous.” Was saying so too controversial that it had to be taken down?

    • A post from “boybert” above basically said as much but has not been removed. How exactly did you say it? :D

    • anon

      I have to say, I found the original post about the word “outrageous” rather annoying.

      I think we all understand that there are relative degrees of “outrage” — just because it’s “outrageous” that, say, people in insane asylums used to be treated really poorly doesn’t mean that we can’t/shouldn’t use the word for more minor outrages.

  • “we ask customers to refrain from walking or running on our escalators”

    This makes no sense. The escalators are always broken, how the heck else are we supposed to leave the platform?!

  • Loudly

    I find it rather amusing to simply bellow with authority “Walk on the left!”
    Everyone shuffles out of the way sheepishly. People love them some authority in public.

    • BitterElitist

      Please come to L’Enfant around 8:20 am and 6:05 pm. Thanks!

  • All is normal, all is fine with the WMATA. I got prompt, air-conditioned and enjoyable ride this morning. It’s my lucky day.

  • I have no idea why, but I find “pardon me” to be far more effective at eliciting a positive response than “excuse me” in any situation. Maybe it’s because the words “excuse me” are typically spoken with an enunciation that suggests “I actually mean EXCUSE YOU” whereas “pardon me” genuinely sounds like you are apologizing for requiring a person to do something for your convenience. Try it with a slight southern drawl for extra effect.

    • ZZinDC

      Ha ha – you are so right – I used to try to encourage my mother, who was tiny and a litle timid in crowds, to say “Excuse me” as if it meant “Get out of my way!” but she was far too nice to listen to me. Of course that was back in my misspent youth – I would never do it now, on the Metro or otherwise. (And that is almost 100% true.)

  • SavageHal

    I have only seen the “stand on the right/walk on the left” signs in airports on moving walkways and not on escalators. Those walkways also have audible warnings advising people that the walkway is ending. I’m guessing there are liability issues if people were encouraged to walk on the escalators. By the way, I love the way that Metro words their “New to Metro?” announcements stating “you may have noticed that people walk on the left and stand on the right” which is clever way to “encourage” this behavior without advocating it in the legal sense.

  • Zach

    This is crap. Wasn’t it WMATA themselves that (a while back) plastered rail cars with those “Escaleftor: A person that stands on the left side of an escalator instead of the right” signs? It stops being an unwritten rule once you, you know, write it down.

    • Anonymous

      Yet it managed to convey the message without saying “please stand to the right and walk on the left,” which is the point.

  • WMATA – We Must Need Alternative Transportation Authorities

    Can they make the same announcement to the asshat in a wheel chair riding down the Bethesda escalator this morning? I bet if he had rolled down backwards (the direction he was riding) he would have sued WMATA for the elevator outage.

  • check it: http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/advisories.cfm?AID=1181

    “On Metrorail, it is customary for riders to stand to the right while using escalators.”

  • Is this truly a tourist problem? I always thought that the stand right, walk left rule on escalators was true throughout the land, so tourists (American tourists at least) should be familiar with it too. I just thought the people blocking the way were inconsiderate.

  • If you don’t mind standing, then what’s the problem with standing on the right? More importantly, WMATA should try reading its own rules:

    On Escalators
    Stand to the right facing forward. Walk on the left.
    Hold the handrail but don’t lean on it…


    • Anony

      Thank you! The escaleft definition pictures were frustrating, but this definitively proves (to me, lay person in the comments and sad, sad metro rider) that even WMATA knows its response is CYA BS.

    • SavageHal

      Note that the heading on that page states “Rules & Manners.” WMATA could easily say that those are specifically manners and not rules to possibly avoid liability issues. I really wish they would/could put signs up since they obvioulsy want to encourage this behavior. Everything I read about this seems to point to legal problems with doing so though.

  • jenster8dc

    Metro’s whole response is horseshit. They did have signs that said “Stand to the right” a few years back. I know for a fact they were posted at the top of the escalators at Woodley and Dupont.

    And this: “The majority of escalator-related accidents occur when customers walk or run on escalators.” Typical Metro “blame the customer” response.

  • andielynne73

    From the WAMATA website:
    On Metrorail, it is customary for riders to stand to the right while using escalators.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, for many years, Metro had signs reminding riders to “Stand to the right” at both top and bottom, as well as placards displayed along the length of the escalators. They made no difference whatsoever. Generally, I just say “Pardon me, please stand to the right,” and folks are accommodating.

  • susu

    I don’t understand why people imply that this is just a DC thing. It’s generally a universal understanding that you stand to one side and walk to the other (usually governed by what side of the road one drives on). I have lived all over the world and have always done this (because that’s what everyone else was doing), regardless of the country – it’s not just on DC escalators. Those who ignore general respect & etiquette are just inconsiderate, self-righteous and rude.

  • raymo-in-ledroit

    At about 8 PM last night, when I came in at Metro Center, one escalator was coming up and the other two off. A Metro employee at the bottom told me and many others that we should have all taken the elevator and not walked down the escalators as that is dangerous and banned.

    Further proof every metro station should be like the Convention Center. Two up and two down with wide stairs in the center.

  • Alison

    Was on wmata.com today and they had an article that says: On Metrorail, it is customary for riders to stand to the right while using escalators. Glad they at least mentioned it! http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/metro_service_status/advisories.cfm?AID=1181


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