Rules for Using Boston’s Transit System


Rules for Using Boston’s Transit System by one who knows.

Welcome to our fair city! There are a couple of things you need to know should you decide to utilize our ‘world-class‘ transit system.

1. Always sit in the handicapped space. Otherwise it’s just going to sit there empty and who really cares if someone who is handicapped gets on. It’s not your fault! So yes, sit in that space and don’t move, no matter who gets on the train or bus!

2. Do not smile. Just don’t. If you do people will think that:

  • You are crazy
  • You are a tourist
  • You have something wrong with your facial muscles. So just don’t do it.

3. Don’t talk. Just don’t. To show such enthusiasm for life is just plain not done. If you have to say something, whisper it quietly.

4. Do not shoulder surf. Shoulder surfing can be defined as looking over the shoulder of the person you are sitting beside to read whatever they’re reading. This is not allowed. If you do it, then your seat mate will clutch their newspaper or book close to their heart and give you a look. You don’t want the look.

5. Don’t sit beside someone if there is anyway you can avoid it. Head to the seat with a space beside it. If you sit down and have an empty seat beside you, make sure that you put your big, fat bag or briefcase down so that no one sits beside you. You do not want someone to sit beside you.

6. Do not make eye contact. You will regret it as soon as your pupils meet the pupils of another. If you do happen to make eye contact, look quickly away as though it never happened. This is best.

7. Do not help people. This is just stupid. You may find yourself a minute late for work and that is ridiculous. All for helping someone?? Don’t do it, just don’t help.

8. Make sure you push forward if there is someone lame or blind in front of you. It’s not your fault that they are lame or blind and besides, they need to just get out of your way already.

9. Do not thank people. This is just unnecessary.

10. Do not ask directions. There are signs for god’s sake! Just look at the signs. It’s not right to bother the rest of us with your silly questions when you could just look at the sign above you with all the squiggly lines and figure out where you are and where you’re going.

As always, thank you for riding public transportation and helping to reduce traffic congestion and pollution!

You’re welcome. 

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11 thoughts on “Rules for Using Boston’s Transit System

  1. Is any of the Boston transit underground? I am reminded of the Kingston Trio’s “MTA Song”: “Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned, poor old Charlie, he may ride for ever ‘neath the streets of Boston. He’s the man who never returned!”


  2. This last week, the red line was so packed, I felt a whole new intimacy with the people standing next to me.

    It was makes me wonder when I see young people make a beeline for the spots on the bus, which are labelled for the elderly and the handicap. Then when someone comes who really needs the seat, they totally ignore them. Last week, I was on the bus, and this young woman, was literally sitting right in front of two elderly women, refusing to give up her seat. Finally, I think sensing that people who were starting at her, she put on dark sunglasses and put her nose into a book. This would not have seemed conspicuous, if it wasn’t totally dark outside.


    1. I wanted to respond ‘unbelievable!’ to this story but the sad thing is – it’s so believable! I’m so glad that someone responded who knows this system! At the same time, I love it. Always a story and glimpse of all of humanity. I will say, I pray for courage for the times when I need to speak up. One day someone let loose on an African American woman. The blatant racism was hideous. I was down the other end of the car but was so glad that a younger white man standing near by moved in to protect and confront.


  3. Marilyn, this is another whole new culture I know absolutely nothing about! Oh, I’ve used public transportation in large cities around the world, airports, etc. but daily commute is quite different. Thanks!


    1. You’re so right! I hadn’t thought of it like that but it is a completely different culture. And one that everyone is expected to know!!! And though this was written as satire, there is always a story when dealing with the transit system! But I’m not kidding – God forbid that you be slow or disabled. There’s no allowance for that!


  4. Reminds me of some of the rules when I visit my daughter in Prague. :-) But we were allowed to say Good-by and I found one kind man who actually spoke to me worriedly when he saw one of the latches on my shoulder bag was not locked. I guess riding on Boston’s T makes one so ready to start the work day with a smile.


    1. :) yes! It was one of those days and I composed the blog while walking from the T to my work! It’s actually pretty funny most days just because it’s so alien for me, even now after 6+ years! My cousin in Moscow says that riding the subway in Moscow is like being birthed! You just have to go with the rush of people, wherever it takes you!


      1. Robynn – she says that using the subway in Moscow is like being ‘birthed’ – you’re just carried along in this sea of people! I wish we lived closer. I have a snow day as well and am restless. Maybe I’ll put on my bathing suit, make a martini and pretend I’m in the Bahamas.


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