Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bus Etiquette

In cities across the world people depend on public transit to go about their daily lives. While many participate few consider what role their actions (or inactions) have on their fellow travellers. Most obey the most simple of unwritten rules of polite society, others do not. This is partially a product of not having an agreed upon list. So, here are some of my rules that I use myself, and that I think would make riding the bus a lot more enjoyable.

1 – Plan Ahead. Before going anywhere near a bus know your route, stop and other details. Having a bus delayed because of your ignorance wastes the time of all other passengers on the bus, and on the stops down the line.

2 – Be Ready When Boarding. Be prepared. The second the bus pulls up your pass, tickets or coins should be in your hand, along with whatever you need (ex. luggage). Delaying the bus is rude to your fellow commuters.

3 – Use Human Kindness. Bus drivers are generally friendly, pleasant people. Say good morning (or another appropriate greeting), and thank you when departing. Excuse yourself if you have to pass by people, and be polite whenever possible. A little friendliness goes a long way. If someone needs the reserved seats at the front immediately abandon yours, do not get into a staring match with your fellow commuters trying to figure out who will vacate the spot.

4 – How to Take a Seat. As soon as you have gained entrance, scan the bus. If there are seats available take one. Move as far back as you possibly can, this becomes more important the fuller the bus becomes. Given the Canadian penchant for personal space it is advisable to sit in empty benches first, but people honestly do not mind if someone sits beside them, so long as you are considerate.

5 – Do NOT Stand By The Door.  Standing on the bus should only occur once the seats are full. If you have to stand on the bus avoid standing in front of the door. It is only appropriate if your stop is quickly coming. If you board the bus and your stop is only two stops away, you may reasonably stand by the door. If, however, your destination is ten blocks away, take a seat, or stand elsewhere.

6 – Know Where You Fit On The Bus. The most desirable seats or places to stand are by the doors. Everyone wants an easy departure. In a perfect world you should select where you stand or sit based on the proximity to your stop. If your stop is far away, especially at a terminal, you do not need to be near the door, be considerate and take a more remote seat.

7 – Keep A Clear Path. This can be a difficult thing to accomplish, but an effort should always be made. If you have bags or other items minimize how they protrude on lines of travel. More difficult still is as you stand to keep a clear path. The easiest way to help to do this is take seats as they become available. Give people departing the bus as much space as you can.

8 - Music. It’s called your music for a reason. If you have a MP3 player, and you care to listen to it on the bus, keep the volume low enough so that the person beside you cannot hear the lyrics. It is somewhat acceptable if the people immediately around you can softly hear your music. Those on the other side of the bus should not be able to hear anything. Playing music out loud, without the benefit of earphones is unacceptable. No one else asked to listen to your music.

9 – Preserve Your And Others’ Privacy. Most people have the good sense not to stare. Etiquette calls for riders to simply stare out the windows, or out into space. Reading or using silent electronic devices is also acceptable. Leave people to their quiet, private conversations with friends on the bus. Essentially, play deaf. Under my rules of proper bus etiquette, I believe that taking phone calls is improper on the bus. If you must take a phone call on the bus control the volume of your voice. You do not want strangers to know your personal business, and they do not want to know yours.

10 – Departing The Bus. Departing the bus is a culmination of many of the above rules. Be prepared and aware of when your stop is coming. Pull the cord, or press the stop button well ahead of the stop so the driver can react accordingly. Gather up your stuff and check for a clear path to the doors. Be aware of your surroundings and exit. If possible, thank the driver.

This is an incomplete list, but I think if all fellow commuters obeyed these principles we would all find are travels more enjoyable.

The post is inspired by frequent and long conversations between myself and my friend Venetia Boehmer-Plotz. Credit where credit is due. 


Carey said...

As much as I enjoyed reading and agreeing with your thoughts on bus etiquette, I could not help but associate some of the thoughts with that of a cranky cantankerous old kook.

This is the kind of geezer who makes that noise, "mwaaairre!" when he does not get his way.

I still agree outright with every word.

Novembeard enthusiast,

Carey Petcoff

SJL said...

Thank you Carey, I can't argue that there's an element of "Kids these days..." to this post. Still, if everyone, in each slice of life, was more considerate it would be a more pleasant world.