Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Escalator etiquette sign in DC

The Montreal transit authority refuses to add signs on its escalators requesting people stand on the right so that people on the left might pass. These kinds of signs are posted in London, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, New Jersey, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zurich, and elsewhere and work quite well.

Not only does Washington, D.C., post Stand Right signs on its escalators, but it has also started an ad campaign in its metro cars to publicize the custom. (Hat tip: Ian)

Escalefter: person who stands on the left side of the escalator when he should be standing on the right

Here's what the DCist has to say about it:

Now we know what to scream at those people that refuse to stand to the right on Metro's escalators -- "Escalefter!" Yes, after much demand, Metro has coined a term to define those that engage in one of Metro's most hated activities. And not a minute too late -- tourist season is upon is, meaning one too many locals getting stuck behind blissfully unaware throngs of out-of-towners. If you're still a little rough on Metro's new words, we've got the skinny on them.



DAVE said...

The stressed out neurotics who can't wait an extra 10 seconds to get up theescalator can use the STAIRS. Escalators are for those who do not wish to climb the stairs. People who need to hold on to something. People, like the old ones, who have a cane in one hand and hold the rail with another. People like mothers with kids and strollers. If you can climb up an escalator, you can climb up the stairs.

Ken said...

First, calling people names ("stressed out neurotics") isn't an argument.

Second, in some metro stations there are 80+ steps. Walking up an moving escalator can cut that in half and in half the time.

Third, because using public transit puts you at the mercy of someone else's schedule, riders tend to want to rush to catch the metro, the train or the bus. Why? So that they avoid waits and increase their chance to make it on time to class, work, a date, the hospital -- in short, wherever they have to be.

Forth, Washington DC (and other transit systems) aren't forcing people to walk. They are simply enforcing a more-or-less worldwide custom of sharing escalators space. Same thing happens on the moveable walkways at airports. Same thing happens on our roads. The custom in many parts of this planet is to have slower moving people / cars / bicycles / roller-blades keep to the right so faster-moving things can pass on the left.

Finally, I agree that people with special circumstances (old folks with canes and women with strollers) should not be abused/bumped in the process. In the same way as drivers tend cut some slack to people with "Driving School" signs on the car. Those are specific and relatively rare cases.

But as a rule, Stand Right signs make sense. It is a question of courtesy. And it works both ways.