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How Badly Do New York City Subway Riders Actually Behave?

A new study finds manspreading and door-blocking are legitimate issues. Eating and pole-hogging, not so much.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Protecting riders’ comfort seems to be the goal of most subway etiquette campaigns. Out of respect for those who value quiet, space, and cleanliness, you’re not supposed to blast music, take up unnecessary seats, or snack on a burger.

But there’s also a logistical case for good train behavior. Subway etiquette can affect the efficiency of the transit system, argues a group of Hunter College researchers in a new study of New York City subway riders. For example, blocking the doors while others are trying to board or disembark can increase train delays. Other, less obvious forms of discourteous behavior can also slow down schedules, they write. “Bulky knapsacks” and pole-hogging can exacerbate crowding, they add, which “in turn, creates loading and unloading problems that extend ‘dwell time’ and lead to progressively lengthier delays.”