What's On HK

MTR etiquette – our top dos… and don’ts!

Every day after work I take the MTR home and for those ten stops or so, there is always something or someone who annoys me! One day, I started making a list in my head of all the things people shouldn’t do while on the MTR and five things immediately popped into my head. I Whatsapped my girlfriends and asked them for their rants and wow, did they have a tirade; each and every aggravation resonated with me as something that at one time or another frustrated me while riding the subway. Anything on this list piss you off too? Did we forget anything that you just can’t stand?

  1. No holding hands while walking through a line of people: There are 3000 people coming out of the MTR doors at once, there’s no need to show your affection at exactly this moment. You’re only getting in the way and cutting people off with your handmade blockade.
  2. No making out: We already know you’re a couple because of your matching outfits, you don’t need to prove it by playing tonsil hockey in front of a crowd.
  3. Put the smart phone game away: We’re all guilty of indulging in a little Draw Something whilst riding the train, but when I’m already touching every person in my perimeter, please step away from the phone.
  4. No reading the newspaper fully outstretched: We get it, you want to be informed about the latest news, but must you do it with your arms on full extension?!
  5. No leaning up against the poles: With a full train and only one spot to stand, I better not fall over because I had no pole to hold onto, due to your entire body leaning up against it!
  6. Fill up the middle of the train: The best place to stand on a full-to-capacity train is not at the entrance, it’s in the middle… you know, that whole open space where you could play a full length football game.
  7. No need to run out of the MTR or push people out the way: No bags, no baby, no grey hair = you don’t need the elevator. Use the escalator for Pete’s sake!! We’ll all get there at almost exactly the same time.
  8. Give up your seat for pregnant women, old people, and families with babies: Where were you raised? A barn! Get up, stand up, and be respectful.
  9. Pull your legs in: There’s almost no reason to stretch completely out and in the way of others walking past or standing near. If I had a nickel for how many times I’ve stepped on people’s feet and forgot to apologize because they were in the way, I’d have a house on the Peak.
  10. Keep your personal hygiene to yourself: Nose picking and nail cutting in a public place are absolutely disgusting habits. Word to the unwise: if you do it in the bathroom, don’t do in on the train!
  11. You can wait two more minutes: Mr. Can’t Wait Another Minute has to bum-rush the train… or else he won’t make it in time for his massage.
  12. Talking on the phone really loudly is rude: No one cares about your conversation with your dentist, so either use a microphone or call them in ten minutes time when you’ve reached your stop.
  13. Taking up two seats is a no-no: I’m tired, I’ve been at work all day… your bag hasn’t… so give up that extra seat!
  14. Stand on the right, walk on the left: The Hongkonger in me gets so annoyed when people stand on the left side of the escalator on their way out of the station (see my newbie guide!). Just because you didn’t make it onto the elevator doesn’t mean you have to stand in my way on the escalator.
  15. Not waiting to get on until everyone’s off: “Please let passengers exit first” is a sentence I’ve heard countless times, but more than 90% of those times it wasn’t followed. You can’t fit in the train if I don’t get off, so please wait!
  16. There’s clearly a line to get on the MTR, stand in it: You don’t need to sneak in the side of the line because I’ve waited longer than you, so get behind me. It’s called a line, so stand it, just like your third grade teacher taught you.
  17. Yelling at the MTR staff is on the do-not-do list: It’s their job to not allow you on the train after the 3 beeps, so let ‘em do that very simple task without you getting in their faces.
  18. Turn off the volume on your game: I don’t care that you killed a fruit, so put your phone on silent.
  19. No littering: We see you “accidentally” dropping your candy bar wrapper on the floor. Seriously, there will be a trash can the second you get off the train, so hold it for two more minutes.
  20. Let people out when you’re at a stop, not stand at the doorway: This isn’t your stop, so why have you positioned yourself front-centre of the doors… and why aren’t you budging?! I have to get off! I have to get to work! Or my personal favourite… I have to get a cupcake! Get out the way of my chocolate fix!

Thanks to my lovely girlfriends for helping me make this list. And, I swear, if we see you doing any of these things, you will get death stares and sighs of disbelief. It’s called common sense and common courtesy.

Any more MTR no-nos to add to the list? Vent in the comments section below!

Back to top