A Neglected Simple Rule and Some Basic Rules for Riding The Train

From my place, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is undoubtedly the most convenient way to get to Makati City in spite of its fair share of overcrowding, delays and most of all, neglected simple rules for riding the MRT like when long lines of train riders snaking to the automatic gates or ticket booths are formed during the rush hour.

My experiences since I started riding the train concerning the violators of these basic rules particularly this morning fueled my muse to make this post.

“The Simple Rule: Follow the Line and Wait for Your Turn”

Normally, I ride the jeepney before 6:30 in the morning to avoid catching the deluge of every train rider in the metropolis which is the long lines of train passengers piling up from both sides of MRT’s North Edsa Station as if a big movie is on its first day of showing. So I always see to it that I leave the house before said time to stay away from such scenario.

This morning, my body involuntarily responded to the backlog of tiredness thereby causing disruption to my body clock. I woke up late for short and this means only one thing: I just availed a free ticket to that big movie showing at the MRT theater.

As expected, the lines on both sides of the station’s entrance have already reached approximately 100 meters away from the ticket booth by the time I dismounted from the jeep. Consequently, I could hardly see the entrance leading to the stairs of the station and the line was no longer moving since I stood at my position. I figured out that the security guards must have declared a “stop entry” when the platform became excessively crowded to accommodate passengers therein. (Sigh!) I really had to “turtle” my way up the Automatic Gates where the magnetic strip tickets are inserted.

Take a peek at the long lines:

This one is crawling at the left side of the entrance.
Another view of the long line at the left side.
This is from the right side of the entrance.

I thought that’s the worst that could happen today up to a time I was nearing the ticket booth where these bunch of pigheaded train riders began to steal the scene. Out of nowhere, the two lines that are usually formed at the side I was at suddenly bore a line allowing those stubborn passengers to gain instant, nearer access to the station’s entrance kicking the unwritten official line.

This picture shows how the ruffians cut the line.

Of course, I was aware that they must be in hurry but we’re as desperate as them to be on time at work. The rule is simple for this situation supposedly: follow the line and wait for your turn. The exception is only awarded to pregnant women, disabled and the elderly. That’s why we, at the tail of the long line, chose to wait patiently for our turn despite the hustle. Instances like this are absolutely pestering; it makes me wish fervently that the pasted trait called PASSIVITY to the flash drive of Filipino Traits be erased. Somebody should have reprimanded the first violator of the rule for the benefit of more train riders.

“Some Basic Rules”

There are also other basic rules in riding the MRT that are deliberately or, safe to assume that, passengers simply don’t know of. These are rules that are, even though based on my experience again, befitting to all train riders.

First, girls should not and should never, unless they are strong enough, barge into the coach for males to avoid being mashed or badly hurt from the scramble that may occur once the train’s door opens. Please be informed that the segregation program has been implemented since April 2006 due to the hardships being experienced by female, elderly, and handicapped MRT riders during peak hours. It’s really pestering when girls, who don’t follow said rule, screams or complain when they are squashed by the bustle.

Second, talking loudly inside the train or in any other forms of public transport is a big NO NO. Most, if not all, of the passengers on board, don’t want to hear about the happenings of somebody else’s life so you might as well hold your conversations or lower the volume of your voice if you find talking irresistible. This applies to all sexes since we all have the propensities to talk as if we are in our houses when talking to somebody over the phone or the person/s sitting next to us.

Third, applies mostly to men especially the plus size and inconsiderate ones. Though it is natural for us to spread our legs open to the point of extending it into the next seat, it is a basic rule to close it when other passengers need the available space. Don’t wait for someone to give you that figurative spank.

Fourth, filling the gaps when coaches are jampacked. It has been a practice of most train riders to be insensitive towards the call; instead, they don’t move until apprehended by impassive persons. I used the word impassive because that’s the trait needed in times like this. Ironic, but true.

Last, every rider of the MRT should use the stairs if they are in a hurry or if taking a rest for a few seconds at the escalator is not part of their routine. That’s the logic behind the stairs leading to the Automatic Gates. Those were provided so people who are in a hurry can get where they need to get to [faster] without disturbing those who are at the escalator. I wish these passengers know how walking up and down the stairs can help them burn calories — to have a free exercise — so they would flurry on them too.

As long as we tolerate violators of these simple rules, the hope for the country’s progress will not loom over the horizon.

It will not hurt a muscle if we comply with simple rules like the ones for riding the train. I believe that such compliance has a ripple effect on the Filipino traits or values NEEDED for the progress that each of us aims.


19 Comments Add yours

  1. cocomino says:

    Very crowded and I learned various rules.
    In Japan the train is also crowded and there are courtesy seats in the train and bus.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      It’s a lot harder when you are actually at the line … Anyways, I am glad you learned something.

      Just want to share this: I once stood beside two French ladies who seem headed for a mountaineering experience here and I could hear (if they speak in English at times) and feel how disgusted they were with the kind of overcrowding the MRT has during rush hour.

      I envied Japanese people when I saw on T.V. one time how they patiently waited for the ration brought about by the scarcity they had experienced from tsunami.With regard this matter, my fellow Filipinos still have a long way to go as far as discipline is concerned.


  2. aRVee says:

    Nice one. I think there is a need for the Philippines to put a machine alongside each station or at least in every other station to top up loads to stored values so as to minimize the piling up of people on getting tickets.

    Although we have that stored values but just like Singapore, there should be other ways to load them – i.e. via a machine.

    Hopefully this will be addressed but just like the rest of the world, trains/MRTs are really crowded once inside, so important thing to do is avoid the rush hours, if at all feasible and the one with a stored value…


    1. aRVee says:

      *erratum on the last line: “if at all feasible and to avoid the “lines”, buy the one with the stored value during off peak hours…


    2. Sony Fugaban says:

      Yes, aRvee, your proposal seem to work as I’ve seen it working in the new LRT line where those machines are evident. However, there is still a need to regulate violators of the simple rules. Hehe … I also like what you said at the last paragraph that the best thing to do is to avoid the rush hour …


  3. john tugano says:

    Very good, bro! I think you have open the minds of those hardheaded people who can’t follow a simple rule.

    I have also noticed the impracticality of using the escalator especially when there are lots of passenger to go down after the ride.They tend to crowd themselves on it not minding of the free and spacious stairway going down. I’d rather walk a little, exercising my feet rather than to be hurt by the pulling and pushing of other people who wished to be the first on the spot in the escalator.
    Poor minds they can’t even think of it.

    Nice post! 🙂


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      I am more than happy to know that you also see the stairs as an opportunity for a free exercise. One loses more weight walking up stairs at any speed than walking very fast on flat ground, according to the state of Wisconsin’s “Calories Burned Per Hour” chart. Walking up stairs burns 690, 563 and 472 calories per hour if you weigh 190, 155 and 130 pounds, respectively.


  4. ramoncito17 says:

    Great article on the MRT Sony! As I had previously written, I had seen and experienced riding metro rail in many many different countries but the ones in Manila is the most challenging to your patience. It has something to do with people not exercising enough courtesy to one another, not following the simple rules that you listed and the authorities not providing enough to also improve the system so that it can serve the riding public more effectively. The overcrowding and the long lines are also a symptom showing that the system inadequate for the riding public it is serving. Therefore what are the authorities doing to help improve this. They do not need to go very far to observe the systems in other countries who have much more effective train systems in place. On the use of the stairs, yes it is an opportunity to exercise. However remember that the stations are all open air and all the fumes coming from the vehicles below are rising up to the stations, so as you are doing your aerobic exercise opportunity by walking up the stairs you also get to inhale more deeply these fumes. Also a lot of older people like me find these stairs very very challenging. I believe the people of Manila are very patient in putting up with a terrible system such as this one mainly because their other choices are even worse than this such us riding the buses that moves slower than the snail. Thanks for sharing your experience on the MRT.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      It’s really nice to see different minds responding to this post. I am learning more than I ever thought I could. Ramon, thank you for sharing about the fumes and the concerns of people like you. It didn’t cross my mind to throw some words with regard the things you mentioned actually. I really appreciate your effort to bring that out because they are something of significance too. Thank you so much!


  5. I used to ride that when I was reviewing for my NCLEX. It’s crazy during rush hour and I always feel bad when I’m sitting and an old lady is standing and nobody offers their sit. Guess who ends up standing? But situations like this makes us stronger , more resilient as a people. When were used to hardships, we can do anything and anywhere in the World. Great post.


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Your response is another “eye opener” for the things I failed to notice. It’s definitely a compliment to hear from people who have something really sensible to say. I just hope that train riders are as optimistic as you at times. Thank you!


  6. Louise says:

    Sony, thanks for visiting my blog and forwarding me to this interesting article.

    I have not had the chance to take the MRT in Manila. I may try it the next time I visit. I will definitely keep your tips in mind!



    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      You’re welcome, Louise. Thank you too for taking time to read the article!

      God bless you and your family!


  7. markpere2010 says:

    Thank you for emphasizing proper public decorum here! I am with you on this!


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      You are welcome!

      Let our voices be heard as I believe we can make a change …


      1. markpere2010 says:

        The good thing for me is, I am not a frequent MRT user (since I both live and work in QC). 🙂


      2. Sony Fugaban says:

        Good for you but not so good for me. Hehe …


  8. El Guapo says:

    Great list of rules.
    How widespread is the following of them?


    1. Sony Fugaban says:

      Little. Majority of the train riders are stubborn at following rules. Hence, I ranted about it … here. Sad to say, most have learned to live with it. This post could either serve as more of a precaution to foreigners and reminders to my countrymen.


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