From unsolicited stares and blaring headphones to ripe body odour, the Parisian public transit authority has it covered in a new etiquette handbook for the Metro released online this week. The “politeness manual for the modern traveller” features 12 commandments complete with jaunty illustrations.
RATP, Paris’s transit system operator, compiled the handbook using about 2,000 submissions from the public. Etiquette rules include assisting elderly passengers with their bags and helping tourists in Bermuda shorts with a metro map in one hand and their hair in the other, if only to privately relish their bad French.
Part of a continuing manners campaign that included posters this summer, the guidebook urges Parisiens to sneeze into a handkerchief and reminds them that no smoking signs aren’t art pieces, but bans. The transit authority also admonishes passengers for operatic cellphone calls and blasting loud music on their headphones. (This is illustrated by a dapper gent cranking the tunes on a gramophone.)
For anyone mercifully unaccustomed to riding public transit, rule No. 11 really drives home the plebeian reality of commuting in an urban sardine can: a sweaty beast of a man introduces his neighbour to his armpit. (The takeaway: Mind your hygiene.)
Will the haughtier denizens of the city take heed? “Parisiens will no doubt give the plans a dismissive Gallic shrug,” the Independent’s Thair Shaikh writes.
There are other rules that may seem unfamiliar to, say, Torontonian commuters: greet the driver, hold doors open for fellow travellers and curb your stares at beautiful women trying to get to their destination sans harassment.
Still Toronto has its share of transit faux pas and its own etiquette campaigns. This past April Fool’s Day, TTC communications head Brad Ross and chief customer officer Chris Upfold starred in a satirical YouTube video about (mythical) personalized subway cars. Here, as in the Parisian campaign, passengers also weighed in with their top pet peeves. And so this “personal car” advertisement encouraged commuters to put their feet up, spread out with massive backpacks, clip their fingernails and gobble fragrant KFC aboard the train.