Singapore’s Unique Escalator Rules

In an attempt to setup some rules for the correct “use” of our Singaporean sidewalks, I stirred up some discussions about the general problem and presence of “Kiasuism” everywhere once again!

Today, I first missed my train, and then missed a meeting because those bloody people can’t read the obvious signs about how to “behave” on Singapore’s escalators!


Dude, there is only one reason that would possibly be eligible enough to explain why people mess this rule up on a daily basis. Singapore is the only country I know off, where you actually stand left and walk right, instead of vice versa… (Singapore Is really Strange – Can You Explain Please?)

However, since people are not walking on the left nor on the right side, and the signs telling you different are pretty obvious placed at every darn escalator. There is no excuse why you still step on that moving piece of high tech and stop right at that spot where you got on!

WRONG! You shift your body to the left side so people who are in a hurry can pass you on the right side!Eat that!

You Fail!

There are three groups of major failing people, that do not have understood the rules of escalator etiquette in Singapore yet. And I beg you not to stop reading if you might feel that you actually belong to one of them. Keep on reading… you will safe me and yourself a lot of trouble in the future!
(Please also read: Singapore City Sidewalk Rules)

  • 1. Group – The Single
  • In general, everybody who lives in a city that has more then 10 houses, 1000 people and at least 1 escalator, should have learned through years of experience, that its simply part of every days etiquette to leave space for passing people. (My comment On Singapore’s Official Etiquette)

    There is no excuse for not doing so. If you are a tourist, just having arrived in Singapore, you may be forgiven. But then surprisingly its the tourists that actually pay most attention to these rules for not standing out so much.

    So please, if you feel that there is a lot of space in front of you and behind you a queue of 20 people taps impatiently on the hand rail, trying to pass you, it might be a sign that you are standing on the wrong side!

  • 2. Group – The Couple
  • It’s very heart warming that you two are so much in love that you can’t let go from each other even for those 10 seconds on the escalator.
    Same goes for business people that must have their very important conversation standing next to each other.

    WRONG! I don’t give a damn if you have to look at your partners back for those 10 seconds if it gives me the opportunity to reach my office or train in time.

    And yes, I saw how you just looked over your shoulder, very clearly spotting all those annoyed people behind you. Now listen…

    DO NOT IGNORE!! How dare you, you simple keep on talking and standing on the right side!

  • 3. Group – The Smart Ass
  • Look at the picture above. What’s wrong with it?

    Correct, the escalator is empty, and the lady thinks that would give her the permission to stand on the right.

    WRONG! Do not stand on the right side ever! It happens often enough that a group of people who (surprisingly) actually apply to the rules and stand left will step right behind you, which again, makes you the object of blocking me!

I Believe In You

..although I don’t have much hope. There are strange phenomena appearing, especially around Rush Hours these days.

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Related Pictures (Click To Enlarge)

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‘)); ?> For example at Raffles Place, around 8.30am. There are two different types of escalators. First ones lead up from the platform to the gates, second ones lead up from the station to ground level.

Now for what ever strange reason, the first ones (which are unfortunately the longer ones) get usually blocked with some dumb person within the first 5 seconds.

However, the second set of escalators, has a strangely almost always clear right side with people walking through just fine. I don’t get it.

So How About You?

What do you think of my listing above? Do you agree that it should be an unspoken rule, understood by everyone that one leaves space on the escalator for people in a hurry?

Please write down your thoughts in the comments below!




yes! totally agree with you!!
I have a feeling that people just know how to use escalators around here! They will usually stop where they get on. Or sometimes they will climb up the escalator but come to an abrupt stop about 10 steps from the top…why? Are they afraid they’ll miss the step and fall flat on their faces? Hello? Don’t you know how to lift your foot up at the correct time or is your face buried so deep in that psp of yours that you don’t even notice that the escalators’ coming to an end?
Oh oh! one more about escalators.. why do people stop right after getting off the escalator? I usually just shove them away and say “Siam-ah!!”


I agree, also with Yvonee. There is something about the Top-stoppers ( people who stop near the top ) that really bugs me. Also the one person, by him/herself on teh right, when everyone else is on the left. It’s best to think of all the considerate people who know what they are doing rather than the idiots who shuold be thrown off the side


Sometimes people are just not aware, or they are caught up in their thoughts. Most of us have been in the “unaware” state at some point in time. I think the first or second person who’s stuck right behind the “offender” should gently remind. Have you folks tried reminding gently? Most of the time people do get it. And I know you are angryangmo but I wish you’ll be less angry. Everyone can be angry and self-righteous but it doesn’t help make the world a better place.


The worst offenders are foreigners from 3rd world countries. There is no such thing as civic mindedness in their dictionary. The consolation is that you can shove them away and they won’t feel offended.


I would add a fourth group – the elderly or otherwise infirm.

I am with you otherwise and tend to excuse myself, pause half a second and push through. If a less direct (aggressive?) person has been stuck behind an “offender” I will excuse myself at that point and then again with the offender. I try to be polite as possible. But sometimes a bit of jostling may be needed to remind people that on this small island they are not alone and everybody has to get to where they are going.

The elderly get some break from me in this case. I read an article at some point where an elderly man was suggesting that clearly we should stand on the right and walk left as most people have a stronger right hand. Of course that would leave the elderly left handers out of luck …


Hey justin, yes, that actually makes totally sense, and as mentioned by me, i wonder how the “trend” started to walk right instead of left..

And of course, the elderly are excused, no question.

And ah, this morning, yvonne and lordbuff… the top-stoppers are recking my nerves…AHHHH!

I always feel like “Excuse me sir, you actually can CONTINUE walking”


I think whoever crafted the stand left and walk right rule is the cause for there not being a continuous free flow lane on the escalators. I always stand on the right, so that my right hand can hold the escalator rail — for safety. Anyone objects? Tell them to get the rule changed.. if they r bothered by being blocked on the right lane!! ;)


I think because Singapore is a right-hand drive country that’s why the stand on the left/ walk on the right rule apply. You over take on the right side when you drive…
Kate, I do agree with you on the unaware state… I do sometimes do that… but how can they be unaware when they’re getting off the escalator with about 50 people getting off right behind them on a death speed escalator – I realised Singapore/Hong Kong escalators run fairly fast compared to the ones in the US or Europe.. – if that person don’t move out of the way, he/she will cause a 50 people escalator pile up… especially for those who have their noses in their psp..

ZQ @ Best Travel Blog

I totally agree with you on this one “Now for what ever strange reason, the first ones (which are unfortunately the longer ones) get usually blocked with some dumb person within the first 5 seconds.”

Very strange phenomenon that I think is only unique to Singapore. and we are so bo-chap that we just let the person who blocked us continue blocking us – forming a stationery line left and right of the escalator; maybe they have yet to wake up?



Haven´t stayed in Singapore for a while. But I must say that once you have stayed in Germany, where EVERYBODY obeys all these rules of standing right (people stand right here), it can get pretty frustrating if someone doesn´t do it in Singapore. Its more than a cliche – Germans are THAT orderly.

That said, its all part-and-parcel of staying in a different country. Singaporeans are definitely not as orderly as the Germans….. but that gives them the creative flair of the amazing and oh-so-delicious food there is…..


I face this everyday. Unfortunatly other than a few shots (from a firearm) into the air or a grenade I really don’t see how this will change. Really, the anger I struggle with each day is just..sign. They.just.don’

Sly B

i’ve got a solution! try to switch escalators into reverse mode every 5 seconds so people will be forced to move :-)


Singaporeans are known to be the orderly and do-as-you-are-told type. Perhaps this is why the “rebels” of this society finds not obeying the rules of escalator being a relieve or break from all these imposed order.


Well, that is quite an issue in Singapore. It’s not only that people always try to get on the bus or train at the same time; the same people then block the damn escalator. Really pissed off I get if these people actually bother to turn around only just to continue blocking instead of moving their arses. Usually I drop an “excuse me” when I pass by such monkeys but in the latter case I move on as roughly as possible showing the middle finger if I get a comment. Dunno why some people need to feel the fist in their faces before they start changing bad behavior. In fact, I do believe that Singaporeans are responsible for that phenomenon as u guys are unable to voice out. U simple stop behind offenders like sheep: dump; encouraging them to carry on with their blocking business. So thank those (Ang Mo and others) who take action.
The “I don’t care about others” idea is the prevailing concept applied by most Singaporeans at the moment. I made that observation during the last 4 years I stayed in this country.

Been to Overseas

I totally understand. It’s the lack of common sense here.

You forgot to add:
1) the noisy students who bunch up together, sealing the entire path, and still chatting happily

2) stupid parents who stop at the top/bottom with the baby carriage in between the handrails while everyone’s moved involuntarily into slamming against them.

Yes, I almost tripped over with my bags of grocery. Even as a girl, I was very much tempted to give a nice soccer kick so the carriage would fly and claim I had no choice.

3) (General) People on their cellphone would slow down or stop in the middle of the path. People, the right way is to move to the side! Worse, I’ve seen people doing that right in front of the EZlink stations.

In New York, you would be stared at with piercing eyes for failing to learn common sense for the last few decades.

Been to Overseas

4) People rushing the mrt in without letting others out. Come on, be civil.

As a girl again, I usually hold out my arms and push people in the chest so I can get out without being slammed backwards. Kinda like I am playing front defense line of American football.

Binge Drinker

I agree with Justin for giving elderly or infirm a break.

However, please consider that there are people “with invisible disabilities”, actually a lot of them as a population percentage. These folks seem OK on the outside but due to a spinal injury or whatever else can’t move out of the way fast, many even seem young and athletic. These people might seriously get hurt and they are not as rare as you might think. There are not always elevators available easily or visibly …

The real problem with that is not the speed of getting off the escalator but the rate of getting on to the escalator. People in SG get on too fast and as a result stand incredibly close to each other on escalators and then wonder they bump into each other at the end?

Please remember the invisibly disabled. I tend to wait for the crowd to pass me so I can stand in peace with enough space around me. Not too much sense in being the first at the end of the escalator.

I think that some people also stand on the right because they have obeyed the rule in their country for decades so they might not always remember that it is reverse here. Happens a lot I think.


Let’s face it. Instead of giving excuses for the bad behaviors of Singaporeans, we should instead think about why only fines can do the job for us. And don’t blame the people from the 3rd world country or the elderly either. I saw more young Singaporeans who did that more than any other groups. What a great education system we have here, huh!?


Let’s not forget the travelators (“people movers”) at places like Changi Airport. Same exact issue as escalators and even more annoying when there is luggage involved — then you REALLY can’t get by when blocked! And what makes this a worse offense (and more punishable) is the big fat yellow line straight down the middle to indicate a separation of traffic! I partly blame Changi for that though – there are currently no signs to instruct people which side is for standing/slow movers and what the yellow lines are meant to imply. Question is, do we think that even with instruction it would be adhered to? Would like to think so but naaahh — this is Singapore!


I have to admit being a “top-stopper”. Having spent half of my life overseas I am used to much slower escalators than the “death-speed” ones here. And I’m afraid that I will trip and fall at the end when getting off, blocking even more people behind.

I apologise for any annoyance I have caused.


Well, I always stand on the left side but I am quite curious. How long is the escalator ride? 1min? 2min? If your work or appointment is really important, waking up 5min earlier doesn”t matter.
Besides, are we suppose to walk up and down the escalator? I always remember the safety reminder to hold on to the hand rail and not slide along it.


Lastly, I believe that nobody wakes up in the morning and says “Today will be a great day! I will be doing some blocking by standing on the right side and at the end of the escalator.” Sometimes common sense aren’t that common. Showing grace to ungraceful behavior is also part of gracefulness.


gosh! u sure have spent a lot of time studying people on esclators


yeah, can’t stand those people who stand instead of walking. what the hell, you know the rule by now, stand on the left if you wanna stand.
and then those people with large bags. your bags do not go besides you. you are not a couple. the bags go in front of you.


Well, its not about the time it take “standing” or “walking” on the escalator, its about having the OPTION to move along or stand if “one decide to”

SMRT should place signs up to “educate” the public about standing on the left. In London there’s sign along the escalator.

I agree “Common Sense” is NOT that COMMON these days.


I think the Singaporean government should introduce legislation that legalises slapping people around the back of the head for not following the escalator rules. If you get slapped in the back of the head it both hurts and would cause public loss of face, which locals find very humiliating, so that they are going to learn to obey the rules fast or otherwise suffer frequent concussion!

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