Ten Rules for Making Your RTD Train Trip Tolerable

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.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen