Commuter Train Culture: Lack of Respect

I’ve been taking the commuter train to a job in Downtown Los Angeles for the past month. I am no stranger to the commuter train, having used it daily for another job several years ago. At the same time, so much has changed that I have decided to document what I am observing.

My initial impression is the lack of respect for other commuters. it is prevalent in so many areas. Here are a few of my observations.

Bicycles and Suitcases

Many people ride the commuter train with bicycles or suitcases. The people who designed the trains had a plan in place for these people, with clearly marked areas where these things are supposed to go. Do you think people actually pay attention to this? Of course not!

On a daily basis I see guys with bicycles and they are standing right in the doorway to the commuter train. Do they bother to give any thought to this? How the hell are other commuters supposed to get on and off the train when someone is sitting right in the doorway with a bicycle? Of course their own ease of entry and exit is of supreme importance. Nobody else matters.

I personally think they should have a rack where bicycles MUST go or a fine issued. That is the only way to cure this type of disrespect.

Sitting Where I Want

The next thing I’ve noticed is actually taking place in the train stations themselves. The way the Los Angeles system of commuter trains is arranged, there are trains that arrive above or below another train. Thus, there are levels to each station and one must navigate stairs and escalators in order to reach the next train.

Why must people simply sit right at the top of the stairs during rush hour commutes? While you are sitting on your ass relaxing and watching the surroundings the rest of us have to avoid tripping over your body and we have to walk around you. Why are you so damned special? They have chairs all over the place if you want to sit. How about you get up and go sit in one?

Taking Up Two Seats

One thing that became immediately noticeable was how people travelling with backpacks and other bags will often sit in one seat on the train while setting their bag on the other seat. They do this to keep the entire two seats to themself. It is the ultimate of rudeness. I join in with others in asking people to move their bag so that I can take their seat. My own experience is that I get major attitude when asking that. It is as though I am asking them to completely abandon the seat.

Hey, seat hog! All I want is to be able to sit down. That’s all any of us want. Your bag doesn’t need its own seat. You don’t need two seats. If you do need two seats maybe you should discuss personal training sessions with me. I have the plan that can work for you.

Letting Me Off Before You Enter

The final thing I am going to rant about is the people who insist on entering the train before everyone else exits. It is posted all over every train station. “Let passengers off before you attempt to enter the train.” How come people can’t do something that simple? Is it really that hard to stand to one side until we get off the train? I do it with every single transfer I make. It really isn’t that difficult. Again, your time isn’t worth more than mine. The train isn’t leaving until we’ve all exited or entered the train. Relax and let things happen the way they are supposed to happen.


The utter lack of respect for humanity is evident when travelling by commuter train. I am sure this permeates every level of society, but it surely happens all the time on the commuter train.