Social Question

prolificus's avatar

Why do people move between commuter train cars, even though signage explicitly prohibits it except in an emergency?

Asked by prolificus (6525 points ) May 7th, 2010

In Chicago, I’ve noticed that some people like to move between commuter train cars on the CTA “El.” All types of people tend to do this, young and old alike, for various reasons.

On the Metra, the gap between two cars is designed to allow passage while the train is in motion. However, the CTA “El” allows for emergency use only, as the gap between two cars is not enclosed.

When I see or hear people use the emergency exits while the train is in motion, it can be very startling and feel unsafe.

Why do people do this? Why isn’t the signage enforced? Also, is this a common occurrence in other cities with commuter trains and subway systems?

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7 Answers

gtreyger's avatar

I have never seen anything like that as long as I’ve been riding the metro/subway systems. I’d imagine they do that to get from one rail car to another. Seems like a road-crossing chicken question. :-)

prolificus's avatar

@gtreyger – ha ha.. to get to the other side… ha ha. Next?

mrentropy's avatar

When I was taking the NJ Transit train to work I’d see people do that. I never did it, but I came up with a theory: people are lazy. They’ll get on the train as close to the front as possible, then move to the back where there’s less people, then move towards the front again when near their destination so when they get off they’ll be closer to where they want to be.

That’s my best guess.

DarkScribe's avatar

Looking for a friend, a vacant seat, moving away from someone they don’t feel comfortable with. There are a myriad of possible reasons.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I believe many people feel entitled to interpret signs prohibiting certain behaviours as applying to others. They seem to presume these others are not as wise and experienced as they are themselves and need to be told what not to do.

I admit that in some situations I interpret the real intended purpose of such signs and I convince myself that I am avoiding the stupid or dangerous behaviour for which the signs were intended.

There seem to be many people who believe that no prohibitions or limits apply to them. These people speed and pass whenever they like on the road. They smoke wherever they like and use their cellular phones to talk and text while driving, in hospitals and restaurants and deny their behaviour could harm anyone.

People ignore the signs on commuter trains because they feel entitled to decide everything for themselves and resent any limitations being imposed on what they consider their rights.

Even where I disregard certain signs, I always carefully evaluate whether I might put others at risk. If there is even the slightest chance of harming others, then I do not indulge myself and disregard the regulations. I guess that makes me a considerate, occasional scoff-law!

jaytkay's avatar

If I were in a huge hurry, and wanted to move to the car which I know will be right by the stairs or exit at my stop, I will do it. But that is very rare.

In my 20s my friends and I would ride between the cars, especially on a hot day. Not something I would do today.

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