8 Etiquette Tips for Public Transportation, Part 1

Cable CarSan Francisco is known for having a good public transportation system, including buses, above and below ground trollies—we call street cars, trains, and our world-famous cable cars (as shown to the right) that transport millions of people each day. Yet recent articles in our local newspaper describe an increase in rude behavior, as part of a national study of all transit systems throughout our country.

Such behavior erodes the fabric of our society. For San Francisco— a world visitor destination—it leaves a lasting poor memory when visitors witness or become part of a bad situation and citizens become tense and frustrated because of what happens during their many rides.

Because there are so many items I’d like to discuss, I’ve broken this tip up into two parts. Part 1 deals with what to think about and do before the ride and upon boarding. Part 2 will discuss behavior during the ride and upon exciting.

Before the Ride

1.  Get your fare ready: Among the top pet peeves of regular riders is having to wait for others to dig in their pockets or handbag for the correct fare. Especially during commute hours, always prepare your fare ahead of time so boarding can be as quick and smooth as possible. Trust me, checking email is “not” more important while waiting for the bus to arrive.  Take a moment to get your fare ready first.

2.  Cue up: Form a line to board. Do not cut the line or push your shove your way onto the bus. Move aside to let people exit before you enter.

3.  Move at the same pace as others: Whenever walking on the street, walkway, or staircase towards public transportation—again especially during high commute times—keep pace with other walkers and do not stop abruptly until you are away from the crowd. In most cities, the flow of traffic is to the right. Whenever you slow or need to stop, walk as far to the right side as possible, allowing faster walkers to pass you on your left. If you want to pass, walk to the left side of the person.

When on an escalator, in the U.S. we stand to the right and pass on the left. When traveling, be observant of other styles and follow their standards. Do not be a “true American.

When in an elevator, step to one side when others want to exit. When waiting to enter, step aside to allow people to exit before you enter. Do not block the doorway, preventing others from exiting.

4.  Personal grooming and hygiene: A bus is not a place to put on make-up or comb your hair. If you didn’t get that make-up on before leaving the house, wait until you get to the office restroom, not your desk. Other hygiene and grooming tips:

  • It’s unsightly and unsanitary to see someone clipping their nails and letting their discards fall to the floor. Yuck! Do it at home!
  • Always bathe, wear deodorant, and brush your teeth before leaving as part of having good hygiene.
  • If you smoke, carry and use breath mints just before boarding a crowded bus.
  • Be cautious of wearing strong perfumes on public transportation, as it is often dangerous to those who are allergic to certain scents.

At Boarding

5.  Stepping on board: When about to enter always stand away from the doorway—either to the right or left—to allow space for exiting passengers. When exiting, let a person with a stroller, a senior or disabled person, or someone with large parcels exit first. A little kindness goes a long way.

6.  Get out of the Way: After entering the bus, do not block the door by standing in front of the door. Regular riders hate that. If you are afraid of missing your stop because you are standing in the middle of the bus, plan ahead by moving toward the exit one stop ahead and when exiting, say in a nice voice, “Out, please!”

7.  Move to the rear: Whether the bus is crowded or not, always move toward the rear so other passengers can board. Drivers are instructed to pass up stops for safety whenever the bus becomes full. But often it’s only full in the front, with the back of the bus still empty.

8.  No seat hogging. Choose one seat in which to sit. Do not take up extra seats with your bags or recline across multiple seats. Do not spread your legs so wide that other people cannot sit down. Do not place your dirty shoes or stinky bare feet on a seat. Other people who are boarding the vehicle deserve a clean seat as much as you do.

Picture this: You always have beautiful rides on public transportation because everyone is most respectful, kind, courteous, polite, and well-mannered.  This can happen if we all do our fair share and part to make this vision come true.

Pass it forward:  Be sure to pass these tips on to everyone you know who takes public transportation as a reminder. Also post other tips you want everyone to keep in mind in the space below.

Tune in next month for the conclusion of this two-part series on this most important topic on Public Transportation Etiquette.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to "8 Etiquette Tips for Public Transportation, Part 1"

  • Dean says: