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Re: World-Class Cities and Those Who Stand On Metro Escalators

Posted by Trixie / September 19, 2006

escalator.jpgIn current lists of so-called “world-class” or "global" cities, Montreal, I am pleased to note, qualifies—ranking at a not-unimpressive “Gamma” level (under “Alpha” cities like New York, Paris, Tokyo and London, and “Beta” cities like—ooh! Potentially contentious!—Toronto.)

Much productive work could be done with this information, but I won’t be the one to do it. Because right now I have a more pressing question: Do you think Montreal’s tertiary status goes part of the way toward explaining some of the inconsistencies and contradictions of the city? I’m not referring to anything related to a Franco-Anglo divide.

Rather, I want to know why Montreal has a truly cosmopolitan feel in terms of culture, lifestyle, and its diverse citizenry, but a perplexingly back-assed understanding of public transportation codes.

My particular bugbear? The way that Metro-going Montrealers en masse seem to have no sense of escalator etiquette whatsoever.

I’m talking about the way people in this city get onto an escalator and then spread out and just stand there.

As city dwellers, shouldn’t we comprehend, by some kind of cultural osmosis if by no other means, the Stand to the Right/Pass on the Left rule? Ok, I suppose in the London Underground, where this system works beautifully, they have signs to this effect. But just imagine what would happen in Tube stations if the general public didn’t obey this code? Think of how many insistent stand-in-placers would be trampled, or, to put a sunnier spin on it, scooched forcibly up and down such that they couldn’t blithely immobilize a line of anxious, rushing, increasingly agitated travelers!

It could be said that Montreal may just locomote to a mellower vibe than many other over-bustling cities, and that this is to Montreal’s credit. And personally, I wish I were not forever running late and thus in a hurry to get through the crowd and on my way. But really, even if your peregrinations are delightfully idle, do you really want to be loitering in the vicinity of the brain-fever-inducing heat and stench and aesthetic depression of a subway system?

Even such considerations aside, I just don’t understand all the clueless standing about and blocking the way that goes on—most often perpetrated by, I should note, perfectly fit travelers, those who could otherwise be tackling the stairs with a spring in their step. I don’t even think it’s just run-of-the-mill laziness, of which I am personally a big fan.

What concerns me is that it’s like some mass hypnosis takes over. It’s that the crowd seems to regard escalators as some sort of not very entertaining but obligatory Fun Park ride that must be endured in stasis. Or a sort of symbolic passage from the Great-Out-of-Doors into the Underworld, and back again: a mystical corridor, the traversing of which cannot be rushed or otherwise interfered with.

And so, to snap these apparently brain-addled Standing Offenders out of their trance, I submit, for the record:

You are not consigned to immobility on an escalator! It’s not a perilous ride that you have to withstand by pretending you are in effect strapped in. You have free will here if nowhere else: you can move along with the machine! In fact, that’s just what the device was created for: to hasten your passage, not because you let it do all the work, but because in walking, it works with you! Do you see? Can you feel the rhythm?

But, you know what? …and here’s the important point…IF YOU WANT TO STAND IN PLACE THEN I BEG OF YOU—MOVE OVER!!! JUST KEEP TO THE RIGHT DAMMIT!!!



J Mac / September 19, 2006 at 12:26 pm
There was an editorial in the Gazette a few years ago that revelled in Montrealers' lack of escalator etiquette and that suggested it could be understood as one of the things that distinguishes Mtl. from T-Dot. Personally, I find the practice kind of annoying, but I'm pretty sure the dude who wrote the editorial is the same guy whose opinions normally infuriate me, so there was something endearing about the argument just on that basis.

Another annoying metro-related thing: the way people don't get out of the way of passengers exiting a metro car. A few years ago I resolved to drop my shoulder regardless of who it was and give them a solid check on my way out. It hasn't changed anything, but it makes me feel better.
Sean / September 19, 2006 at 03:12 pm
Hurrah! Whenever I am behind the Stand Lefters on an escalator or a moving sidewalk I am always yelling internally "IT'S NOT A RIDE!".
Trixie / September 19, 2006 at 05:46 pm
Hey J Mac--so YOU'RE the guy shoulder checking poor little old ladies in your mad rush to get off the metro car!

Well they probably deserve it--the metro car door blocking that you describe is also super annoying.

The truth is, most manifestations of Montreal's idosyncratic, laissez-faire charm does actually totally charm me (as such I can relate to the Gazette editorial, and to how endearing that could be--I could even almost agree with the guy!), but this "Stand Lefters" (to quote Sean) phenomenon just kind of freaks me out.
Jill / September 22, 2006 at 09:55 am
Toronto has no escalator etiquette either. Don't believe anyone who tries to tell you differently. Bad escalator etiquette is a universal constant of this milennium-- if it ever even existed before.
Yuka / February 4, 2015 at 09:38 am
Ik sprak laatst een ropratlmonteur over zijn werk; onder de metalen plaat bovenaan de roltrap ligt een logboek met notities van verrichtte werkzaamheden. De enige roltrap, die ik regelmatig tegenkom is die bij de Appie Happie in Vaals en die op jouw vlogs!Leo Viebtor
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