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The metro system is the lifeline of the District. Even though we use it every day, our relationship with it is definitely complicated. There are days when you love it, and days when you hate it.

Of course, there are ways to ride the metro like a local pro, and ways that will make you stand out like a sore thumb if you’re a tourist. You would think a simple ‘Don’t be an idiot’ mentality would suffice, but apparently some metro riders could benefit from a little extra hand holding. Here are some tips so you can ride the metro just like a local and blend right in with the rest of us.

Tip #1: Stand on the right, walk on the left.

We abide by a rule of common courtesy in our metro system. When we’re riding the escalators, we have the unspoken rule of reserving the right side for those of us who choose to stand, leaving the left side open for those of us who choose to walk. Nothing stands out more than someone standing on the left side of the escalator, oblivious to those of us trying walk up or down. So remember: it’s walk on the left, stand on the right.


Tip #2: Walk onto the metro car with purpose.

We only have a mere few second between the time the train doors open and close. We may not be violently pushing past people to get on our train, but we are a little aggressive about it. Once the doors close, there is no reopening them. So recall that cheer from high school and B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!

Tip #3: Be respectful to those on the train with you, but don’t feel the need to engage in small talk.

It’s hard to not want to strike up a conversation with the person whose armpit you’re nudged under because the train car is packed. Unless the person looks like they’re in the mood to talk, don’t feel like you’re obligated to start a conversation with them. We know it’s crowded, and we’ve all been in very compromising positions while on the metro (*ahem* nudged under many armpits), so don’t sweat it (no pun intended).

Tip #4: You have to swipe in and out of the metro, so keep your SmarTrip card handy.

In D.C., we have to whip out our SmarTrip cards when we’re entering the metro and when we’re exiting it. Do not be baffled by this, just keep your SmarTrip card handy at all times. There’s nothing worse than getting settled on your train, putting your SmarTrip card away, only realizing that you have to search for it again two stops later. Correction- the only thing worse is being the person who holds up the entire line trying to exit the station because you are shuffling around for your card. The comments, groans, and looks of scorn by Washingtonians held up during rush hour are harsh enough to bring a man to tears. Keep your card nearby at all times!


Tip#5: Don’t be alarmed by single tracking, it happens every weekend.

Do not freak out. Yes, there are 20-minute wait times between trains this weekend. No, I promise this will not completely ruin your plans. Every weekend at least one metro line is single tracking. So in order to avoid the usual anxiety that comes with missing your Sunday brunch plans, get to the metro early or have Uber on stand by.