Public Transportation Etiquette

9 May 2012 | Chloe Whitestone | tweet feedback to @honestcollege

City-life, rural-life, life in between: All of these share one very important aspect of civilization. Public Transportation. 

In big cities like New York and London, it is impossible to miss it—and, oftener than not, impossible to get around without it.

However, as someone who takes public transportation daily as my form of commute, I have noticed that, while it is ubiquitous in society, the people taking advantage of it (or even not) simply don’t respect it.

For this reason, I have compiled a list of ten simple rules for Public Transportation Etiquette, which I hope all will find useful in their futures.

1. Have your money/pass ready. Whether you take the bus or subway every day or if this is your first time, it is necessary (aka considerate) to be prepared before your ride comes, so that when it does you won’t hold up anyone else.

2. Furthermore, get there early! Not only is it embarrassing to be That Guy who runs after the bus, everyone on the bus will be angry at having to wait for you. And if you don’t make it—you’ll be the angry one.

3. Don’t eat. If you’ve just obtained a delicious pack of McDonald’s fries and are extremely happy to be enjoying your ride from work—you are simultaneously ruining someone else’s ride, for now their stomach is growling due to the sensuous smell and their mood has instantly tanked.

4. Don’t play loud music. Obviously iPods, mp3 players, Walkmen, and the like are encouraged—as long as you have earbuds or earphones, but if anyone besides you can hear whatever rock band you’re into this week you might as well expect a Vulcan Nerve Pinch. (required viewing:

5. When it comes to seats, everyone wants their own without anyone next to them; it’s a human condition. However, buses and subways and trains fill up. If you are extremely anti-social, a good rule of thumb is (in the case of rows of pairs of seats) to sit on the outside until all seats in front of you have filled, then move over for someone else to sit next to you. However, always be kind to your fellow passengers and never hinder their finding a seat.

“When it comes to seats, everyone wants their own with
anyone next to them; it’s a human condition.”

6. If you are on a vehicle that requires you to request an exit, be sure of where you want to get off. If you ring the bell and the driver stops and it’s not where you wanted to get off—get off anyway. The drivers work all day and don’t have time for your insolence.

7. Always let people get off before you get on. Sometimes the driver of a bus will tell you, but they shouldn’t have to.

8. Do not leave any of your belongings—including your trash. Public transportation is not public waste. Public transportation is not the lost and found. Be aware and considerate.

9. Pretty much always you have to have your ticket or coins ready before you get on; that requires going to a different location, which varies place to place. Occasionally you can pay with real money, but find this out beforehand.

10. Always, in the case of using public transportation and in the case of life, follow Wheaton’s Law: “Don’t be a dick.” (And also reference this blog post.)

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