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Ten Rules for Making Your RTD Train Trip Tolerable

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With the RTD A line now heading to Denver International Airport, to be followed by more lines opening by the end of 2016, it’s time to revisit what it means to be a good citizen on Denver’s rail system — whether commuter or light rail.

It’s easy to take the benefits of mass transit for granted, but these rides are worthy of respect — and so are the other folks sharing the trains with you.

On almost every ride, there are passengers making fools of themselves, or at the very least making everyone around them annoyed, uncomfortable or downright disgusted. Don’t be that guy (or girl).

These ten rules will help.

10. Don’t Put Your Feet on the Seats
Studies have shown that the bottom of your shoes carries all sorts of awful things that you don’t want to spread around — from petroleum to E.coli to infectious agents of all sorts. When you prop your shoes up on the seat across from you, you’re not just passive-aggressively barring someone from sitting there — you’re also essentially wiping your disgusting soles all over their pants.

Or worse, their bags or their hands or their kids.

So, yes, there’s a good reason that signs all over the trains ask you to keep your feet off the seats, and you’re not fighting “the Man” when you choose to ignore those rules; you’re giving the finger to all of us who don’t want to lick your boots.

And before you get all power-trippy, remember: You’re potentially licking everyone else’s, too.

9. Shut Up
Trains are shared space. As such, there are rules in place — and rules of common sense, too — that support people in, you know, not annoying the shit out of each other in sharing that space.

To wit: Don’t make a ton of unnecessary noise. Don’t turn on your external speaker so everyone can share in your enjoyment of the hard-core rap that you downloaded last week. Wait until you’re home to make that phone call to the girlfriend with whom you’re fighting, or to talk with your grandma who’s hard of hearing so you HAVE TO YELL EVERYTHING AND REPEAT IT TWICE.

And, seriously, don’t have conversations about your recent incarceration with strangers and say, “…but everyone gets popped for domestics now and then, right?” Because, no, everyone doesn’t, but we’ll just smile and look away as though we were distracted by something and totally not wishing we were anywhere but sitting across from you in that moment.

Bonus tip: Don't cut anyone, even if you want to, especially if she's your sister

8. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
We’re not sure if there’s a rail equivalent of the Mile High Club, but the sex-on-a-train scene from Risky Business probably gave some people some ideas.

But let’s keep that in the realm of film and fantasy, shall we? Because the reality is that when you’re in the middle of the act, there’s going to be a pretty quick stop when someone boards and all of a sudden: interruptus. And that’s just awkward for everyone.

Not only that, but remember what we said above about people putting their shoes on the seats? Yeah, not the best place to go even partially pants-less.

7. Stay With Your Bike
It’s cool that they let you bring your bike on board, but that spot they give you isn’t a parking space. You don’t leave it there and take a seat. You stand next to the thing and make sure it’s not in anyone’s way.

Consider your bicycle a giant pain in the ass that you need to be ready at any time to apologize for.

Because it totally is.

6. Clean Up After Yourself
Look, if you’re going to break the “no food and drink” rule and have a snack on the train, no one is likely to object (unless your snack is particularly stinky, in which case the rules for polite flights apply).

But when you’re done with your dining-car experience, don’t just toss the garbage on the floor or tuck it beside the seat.

No one wants to share a seat with your leftovers.

Keep reading for five more rules.

5. Don’t Block the Doors
If you do, a voice will come on explaining that you need to get the hell out of the way, though the voice will be slightly nicer than that about it.

But seriously, it’s not rocket science: The doors have to close in order for the train to start moving again; the train needs to start moving again in order to make its next stop on time; the train needs to make its next stop on time because you and your slow ass aren’t alone in the world, and other people need to use the train, too.

4. Realize Windows Aren’t One-Way Glass
So that means: You’re on big fat display to all the drivers stuck in traffic right next to you. Just like you can see them eating, talking on their phones, tapping out a rhythm to whatever song they have on their radio, or whatever — they can see you, too.

So don’t fall asleep with your mouth hanging open like one of the walking dead. Don’t pinch at that zit on your neck, thinking you’re being subtle. And for the sake of humanity, try to keep your finger out of your nose.

3. Pay Your Fare
It’s true that the rail cops don’t ask you for your ticket every time — but they do now and then, and when they do, you’d better have something to show them.

They do a good job keeping it pretty random, so you never know.

We ride light rail regularly, and we've both gone weeks without being asked, and also been asked several times in one week. It’s a smart system that keeps riders on their toes — or, more important, honest. 

2. Keep Your Bags Close
This isn’t about security; it’s about keeping your luggage out of everyone else’s way.

This will clearly be more of an issue on the new A line out to DIA and those connecting lines along the way (including the long-awaited stop at Stapleton, which that development has been touting as a perk of residency for nearly ten years now).

It'll be tricky, because your suitcase shouldn’t block the aisle, and it shouldn’t get a seat of its own, either.

Best advice: Be aware of the people around you, and use the racks provided whenever possible on those new trains. And, worst-case scenario, if you need to stand, just keep the bag as close to you as you can in order to make room for everyone else…and their bags.

1. Be Old-School Courteous
All of these rules can essentially be boiled down to one: Just be kind.

When a person needing special assistance gets on the train and you’re sitting in one of the sections designed to make it easier for them, don’t sit there hoping they don’t bother you. When an elderly person gets on a full train, offer them your seat.

These are gestures that used to be just the way we did things, and we’ve somehow lost them over time. Bring them back. Be the person your grandmother always thought you were.

It’ll do the ride, and your heart, some good.

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