February 18, 2019

An Uncomprehensive List of London Underground Don’ts

London Underground station

All opinions expressed in this article are my own and most of them debatable at that. Do you agree with these ‘don’ts’? Are there any that you would add?

1. Don’t make too much eye contact

This one falls under the broader category of ‘don’t be a creep’. However, do make eye contact generally. The commute is uncomfortable enough without everyone shuffling around looking at their feet or staring at the ceiling.

2. Don’t sit in a priority seat unless you are certain no one else needs it

This means you may have to do something most Londoners find truly terrifying, speak to a stranger. Commuters are easily startled, but an offer to take a seat, even if not accepted is usually appreciated. People who are pregnant or are living with a disability usually will have a badge but some may not. Just be careful about assuming who and who is not pregnant.

3. If the machine says “seek assistance” it does not mean “tap your card harder ten times”

That’s not how it works. There was a time when smacking your TV would fix the signal but these days you probably wouldn’t hit your LG Smart 4K Ultra HD LED TV if the signal flickered. When the terminal asks you to seek assistance, do just that.

4. Don't be rude to the TfL staff

Whatever the issue is it's rarely their fault. If you'd like to provide feedback that actually helps improve the service jump on the TfL website. They have a comprehensive feedback system.

5. Don't pull the passenger alarm unless it is a proper emergency

The train will stop, the driver will come to find you, assess the situation and then probably go back and drive to the next station. A better solution may be to wait and get off at the next station and seek help from staff there, help that can get to you much quicker.

6. Don’t eat or drink on the tube

You may have come across the recent phenomenon of the ‘mukbang’. A ‘mukbang’ is an audiovisual broadcast usually on YouTube where the host streams themselves eating large amounts of food. Commuters did not sign up for your mukbang stream. Save it for your YouTube channel.

7. Don’t be that guy that shouts “move down”

Arguably, the “move down” guy is worse than the guy that doesn’t move down. Sometimes someone has to do it but it always sounds obnoxious. The point is don’t be either of these people. If everyone moves down the “move down” guy will cease to exist. Together we can do this.

8. Don’t forget your manners

This means let people off before you get on. It means no feet on the seats. Respect people's space when you can. If you want to actually watch a mukbang on your phone use headphones. Most people do not get reception on the tube so if you do decide to have a conversation the whole carriage is probably listening to you or cannot ignore you. If the conversation is benign then nobody wants to hear it and if the conversation is juicy then you probably don't want everybody to hear it. Either way, keep the conversation outside the carriage.

9. Don't leave your bag on the seats 

Seats are for people. Your bag is not people. Also, take your bag off when you get on the tube, that is enough space for a whole other person. Also just because it is a Fjällräven Kanken Classic Backpack doesn’t make getting smacked in the face by it any less annoying.

10. Don’t lean on the poles

Poles are for holding not leaning. Also, hold onto the poles! If the train stops and you are not holding onto anything, you keep moving.

11. And lastly...

Don’t forget to appreciate just how awesome the London Underground is. Trains come every minute and move millions of people every day!