There is an unwritten code of behaviour for travelling on transport system. Londoners have a way of doing things on the Underground, and get annoyed with tourists who don't understand the etiquette. It's easy to pick it up though - here are a few rules to help you get on amicably with your fellow passengers:

  • Allow passengers to exit before boarding.
  • Don't stand on the left on escalators. Stand to the right, walk on the left. Don’t be the one who holds everyone up because they are standing on the left of the escalator.  Don't stop and stand at the bottom of the escalator to check your map or look for the correct platform.  Remember hundreds of people are being propelled towards you and they can not stop!
  • Don't crowd around the doors. Move to the centre of a crowded train or bus if possible.
  • Give up your seat to those who might really need it. 
  • Avoid loud conversation.
  • Avoiding eye contact with other passengers may seem odd but is a solid British tradition.
  • Newpapers: You will note the number of passengers engaged in heads down focus on the latest issue of Metro. Some, though not those who have to clear up the mess, consider it OK to leave your newspaper on the train and it is fine to pick up an abandoned one that has been left behind.
  • Take your rucksack off. If you are wearing a large backpack or carrying parcels, take care that they do not interfere with the space of others. It is generally best to hold your backpack in front of you while travelling on public transport, especially during times when services are particularly crowded.
  • Have your ticket ready on entrance and exit, so you don't have to stop and fumble in your bag or purse looking for it, creating a traffic jam behind you!
  • Move down the platform as best you can during peak travel times.
  • Crowded trains: check the indicator for the next train time before crushing into a crowded train. Sometimes an extra minute on the platform brings along a much emptier car.
  • Keep on moving. Don't stop: When walking around underground stations, make sure you consider the people behind you. Don't stop at the top of escalators or after ticket barriers as this stops the flow of traffic behind you.

Please be aware that during the peak hours most people are only interested in getting from A to B and usually travel at great speed with their heads down. Don't take it too personally if someone is rude after they have just run in to you, just accept that their pace of life isn't as peaceful as yours :) 


Some more tips on how to use the london transport system, originally written for the olympics here.