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SEPTA Riders Concerned About Passenger Etiquette

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The subway is normally a quick way to get around the city, but on a train in New York, the subway was neither quick nor calm.

A woman eating a container of spaghetti on the subway gets into an argument with a passenger next to her. The two start yelling curses back and forth before standing up and confronting each other. In minutes, the fight turns physical. One woman dumps the spaghetti on the other and the two start pushing each other around.

SEPTA passengers we spoke with say they have never seen anything that extreme, but it seems every rider has a story of frustration.

“One evening, I was riding the bus,” remembers Angela Allen, “and someone was eating. The driver asked him to stop and he put his food away.”

“Sometimes young people sit where senior citizens are supposed to sit,” said Margaret Gardiner, “and they refuse to leave.”

Youtube videos show SEPTA riders making and eating sandwiches. Other videos show people yelling and fighting. SEPTA says the general rule when riding is to be respectful of others.

“Be courteous,” said Kim Heinle, Assistant General Manager of Customer Service and Advocacy. “If you’re going to drink coffee, make sure it has a lid on it. No open containers, food. No prepared meals. This isn’t Meals on Wheels.”

Passenger etiquette signs posted on trains and buses remind people of the rules, but they are sometimes forgotten or ignored.

“It’s private property,” says Charmaine Jackson, who rides SEPTA buses everyday. “It’s SEPTA property, and they can make rules. If you don’t like the rules, get off the bus.”

The vote for most annoying behavior goes to talking loudly on cell phones.

“They put all their business in the street, and I’m like ‘who is this?'” one commuter said.

But there are two sides to every story, right?

“People tell you ‘this is the quiet car, you’re not allowed to use a cell phone.’ it’s not even the time that they’re looking at it. I’d rather the conductor tell me than you tell me. You never know what’s the important phone call that I’m on.”

Apparently, there’s no consensus about what’s okay and what’s not on mass transit.

To see the complete list of passenger etiquette guidelines, visit

Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3 and Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio

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  • Nanlisa

    Oh and another thing about the cellphones. One Saturday morning, when I was coming back from my Weight Watchers meeting in Springfield, on the 109 bus, this young girl boarded the bus in Clifton Heights; screaming, yelling, and cursing on her cellphone. An older woman told her to keep her voice down, but the girl told the woman to mind her own business!

    Another time, I was coming home on the 123 bus, this young black girl was cursing on her cellphone and talking out loud; and she was sitting right behind me. I was going to tell her to please keep her voice down, but knowing her, she would have told me to mind my own business!

    This is the most selfish and disrespectful generation that I have ever seen; especially on SEPTA. They have no consideration for the other passengers whatsoever. If you tell them what to do, they’ll give you an attitude.

    If you have to talk on your cellphone, by all means, please keep your calls short and sweet! I don’t want to hear every detail of your personal lives. You are making it our business if you keep talking about it. You better learn some manners! Thank you.

  • Nanlisa

    IOne Friday night a few weeks ago, as I was coming home on the 104 bus, an older woman got on and she stood behind the driver. I offered her a seat and she refused. She said that she stands because once she sits down, she has trouble getting up. Earlier in the week, she took the 113 bus, and the driver told her to move because she was blocking the driver’s way. She refused. She got off the bus and told the driver to “have a nice day”. That same day, this other woman, who was riding on the 104 with me, got hurt and she had to go to the emergency room.

    Last Tuesday (April 19),as I was coming back from a job interview in King of Prussia on the 123, this young black guy stood in front of the bus and was busy chit-chatting with the driver; even as the bus flew right up the Expressway and then down the Blue Route. I offered him a seat, but he refused. One time, I was coming home on the 104 bus, and there was this heavy-set woman doing the the same thing with the other. A few weeks later, I saw the 104 coming, and the same woman was doing the same thing. But this time, I just told the driver to keep going. Ditto for this one black woman when I was coming home on the 112. She also said that the driver is her cousin!.

    I’ve even seen them doing the same thing and talking on their cellphones as well. For example, one Saturday morning, I was on my way to my Weight Watchers meeting in Springfield on the 109. This young black girl boarded the bus in Lansdowne; chit-chatting on her cellphone, while standing in front of the driver. I offered her a seat but then she refused.

    When are these people going to learn that standing in front of the driver, sitting on the left ledge behind the driver’s seat, chit-chatting with the driver, and chit-chatting on your cellphone is very dangerous? I’ve had a few people tell me to m ind my own business, but you know what; that’s just too bad. I’m not the one who’s going to end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. they are. I also tell them to think about Zsa Zsa Gabor and what she is going through. She’s the perfect example since she was in a car accident in 20002 and she’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

    I want to see some responses here as to why you think it’s necessary to stand on the bus behind the driver and simply move? Why do you have to do this? I don’t like this at all, and I want this to stop! Right now!

  • Nanlisa

    Stop standing behind the driver and sitting on the left ledge; especially when there are plenty of seats available. This is a very serious safety hazard. You may be “fine” now, but if you ever find yourself in the emergency room with broken bones, serious injuries, crippled for life, or even killed, that’s on you.

  • Bob BoDean

    A cell phone blocker? Wow! Where can I buy one?

  • Stephanie Patterson

    It’s a shame that Septa has to post rules of rider etiquette – when they are no more than COMMON SENSE COURTESY rules that should have been learned AT HOME! Obviously, there are several generations of rudeness in Philadelphia. BTW: The NY subways are MUCH NICER! I’ve been on them!

  • Septa Rider

    While I’m a regional rail rider and don’t have as many concerns as the Subway/bus riders here, I too think the cell phones on the train are my biggest pet peeve! I get on the regional at 6:45-7:00am in the morning and ride it for just under an hour, the last thing i want to do after waking up at 5am or working an 9/10 hr day is to listen to you have a 30 min conversation about how everyone in your family is doing and updating them on your stupid life. I mean Don’t get me wrong, I have NO problem if you need to make a quick call to ask someone to pick you up, tell them to pick up the kids or that you will be late ect. those calls take less than 2 min to complete and are important, but septa riders PLEASE stop making business calls, personal call or any other calls for 30 plus mins in my ear. we are already cramped 3 to a bench i do not need to hear your life story as well, I’m trying to read or sleep!

  • Michelle

    I love how people say “how do you know it isn’t a really important call that I am taking in the quiet car?” Here’s an idea, let the person leave you a message, check it, and if you need to return the call, step into the second car when the train stops next. Otherwise, you are not likely to be on the train for more than 45 minutes, and since you likely don’t have a way to get from a stop other than your intended to wherever the emergency is, you can’t do anything about it until you get off the train anyway! For the most part I enjoy my regional rail commute, it would be nice if someone wiped the hair product/ forehead sweat off the windows occasionally though…

  • Clare Peterson

    The seat-taker-uppers are my pet hate. If you want your tote bag to ride in luxury, buy it a Trail or Trans Pass. Once a woman had her feet on a seat on a bus during rush hour, and ignored me when I politely tried to get her attention. So I sat on her feet! I wonder if that got on You Tube?

  • Joe

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody make an “important” call on SEPTA. The folks getting shusshed on QuietRide cars are either cussing out their loved ones like “Annoyed” pointed out, or they’re guys that are trying to show everyone how important they are by constantly calling someone to check on the “status” of a presentation.

  • A Normal Sized Person

    What about fat people who take up more than one seat? This happens to me quite frequently and it’s repulsive. I’m forced to be uncomfortable while they spread their billowing fat into my seat. I think SEPTA should make them pay two fares like the airlines do.

    • Jenn

      you a real a**. there are alot more things to complain about. The commet you made was just down right mean. Dont you think people that you say are “fat” know that they are overweight and know that people like you dont want to sit next to us but really GROW THE HELL UP!!!!!

  • Helen

    I was coming out of the ShopRite in Cinnaminson just yesterday and I had to stop and wait for the woman who was backing up and who was mad as a hornet when she had to put down her grub.
    Backing up steering with left hand, bowl of something in right hand = a big hot mess

  • madetoorder

    SEPTA only enforces the rules as to some not others. The trains are filthy…don’t they have anyone that wipes seats, handles, windows down at all? It is really disgusting. I am sick and tired of listening to others’ music selections because they have their music on so damned loud. I’m sick of the gangsters who take up two seats and won’t get up and allow the elderly, handicapped or pregnant to sit down. I’m sick of the loud-mouth hoochies who can’t speak more than a 4 word sentence without swearing and or popping their disgusting gum. SEPTA management and their legal counsel should ride the trains for a month undercover and see what goes on for themselves.

  • Erika Stephanie

    The SEPTA employees are no better than the passengers in many cases. If SEPTA would get ahold of it’s quality issues, like the cleanliness of it’s buses and trains, folks might be more inclined to not treat it like a trash can on wheels.

  • NS

    All SEPTA employees need to enforce the rules. Also, have automated messages made over the PA system and displayed on the LED signs.




    • Nanlisa

      Kevin: If you don’t like SEPTA, then go get your driver’s license!

  • Barbara

    The issues cited are health related concerns. Why not have one of the city’s health related nonprofit organizations in this area work with Sept to formulate solutions? It seems obvious that some communities within this area find such behavior socially acceptable, therefore, it would make sense that community leaders become involved as well. If people would begin working together as opposed to against each other and effective council members are elected to office, we may just be able to persuade businesses to return to Philadelphia solving our largest issue – unemployment.

  • Annoyed SEPTA Rider

    You’re forgetting about when people talk on their cell phones as if they’re in their homes. I’ve witnessed a young lady cursing her boyfriend out over the phone, dropping the ‘F’ bomb every other word, as if they were face to face, loud and in stereo. Also, people play music on their cell phones loudly without headphones and it’s annoying to hear loud music like that, and the driver doesn’t say a word. Not ALL SEPTA vehicles have those etiquette signs on them. I think the drivers should speak up and take control of his vehicle and remind people of the respect they should be giving other passengers. I think a lot of the drivers are afraid to say anything.

    • Randy Wolfgan

      Thats why I bought myself a cell phone blocker from England, it looks like a regular phone but when I switch it on it shuts down cell phones within 20 feet. it would have shut that inconsiderate creep down in about 5 seconds.

      • Lila

        Who cares if it’s legal or not, who is going to figure out you have one?

      • Zak Pflieger

        is that even legal?

    • Nanlisa

      I agree with you. I’m sick and tired of hearing this lousy music; especially on SEPTA! If you want to listen to some music, why don’t you listen to either Frank Sinatra or Barry Manilow? That type of music is much soother and more calmer than that lousy rap music! I hate today’s music, and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat!

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