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Bus Etiquette: How to Behave Riding Public Transportation

Updated on December 29, 2013

Thank God, I don't ride the bus that often because it tends to remind me that humanity is hopeless. Normally, I'd like to be more positive than that. Unfortunately, when you watch people behave in ways that are unbelievably stupid, insensitive, and generally doofussy beyond belief, it's hard not to wonder whether human beings are doomed. Understanding bus etiquette just isn't that hard. I mean, if you can't even ride a bus and understand its basic rules, how can you function as a contributing member of society? How can you function in a balanced relationship with other people. How can you be married or have kids? How can you do any of those things and be good at them? Etiquette, be it on a bus or somewhere else, is just one of those basic components of society that allows it to function without descending into chaos. It's what separates us from monkeys.

So let's go over the rules of riding the bus.

GNU Free Documentation License
GNU Free Documentation License | Source
  1. Exit at the back - It kills me that people don't understand this one. Kills me! What is the number one complaint about bus service? Let me tell you: the most common complaint about the bus service is that the buses don't run on time. Well, guess why the buses aren't on time? It's because people exit out the front door and cause the people who are entering to wait for their dumb asses. If this happens at every stop, the bus runs late. This, of course, is specific to buses with a front door and a back door. You enter through the front door and exit through the back door. Even if you're sitting at the front, you still exit through the back door. This allows everything and everyone to move at their best pace. Go ride your average bus. I bet if there are 100 people on the bus, at least 30 of them will exit out the front door, completely oblivious to the fact that they're slowing everything down. The only reason you exit out the front door of a bus is if the bus is so crowded you can't actually get to the back door. Exiting out the back door is just an act of common decency that is absolutely lost on most people. Exiting out the front door of a bus is the social equivalent of farting in a crowded elevator.
  2. If you have a question or have to pay, turn off your cell phone - Don't you just love people who are talking on their cell phone as they approach some customer service situation and then say "what?" when they're asked a question? This happens on the bus all the time. The person getting on the bus is talking on his or her cell phone and does something that requires the bus driver ask them something except when that happens, the person can't hear the bus driver. This slows everything down and is just plain rude. People who do this regularly should have their cell phone confiscated by the government.
  3. Give up your seat for an old person - It's amazing how many people are oblivious to this rule. First of all, the front seats are generally meant for older people and others for whom walking to the back as the bus moves might cause them to fall. If you're young and mobile, you simply shouldn't sit at the front of the bus in the first place. If you do, you should always be on the lookout for somebody getting on the bus who might require your seat and offer it to them. An old person might need it. A pregnant woman might need it. Somebody on crutches might need it. A dwarf with a limp might need it. If you're a decent human being with an understanding of the basic etiquette of public transportation, you'll give up your seat to one of these people when it comes time to do so.
  4. Make sure your bus pass is visible to the driver - If you have a bus pass or require an identification of some type to board the bus, make sure it's completely visible to the driver upon entry, otherwise the driver is going to have to stop you and ask you to show it more clearly and everything is slowed down. Aside from driving the bus and not crashing it, this is one of the bus driver's basic duties: make sure each passenger has paid the proper fare. Don't make it harder for the bus driver than it needs to be.
  5. Be respectful of others by listening to music or talking on your cell phone quietly - The bus isn't your personal office or your personal nightclub. In any situation that involves lots of other people, you should have some concept of proper etiquette. This would include trying to keep your voice down when talking on the phone assuming talking on the phone is absolutely necessary. Other people who are on the bus want to read, listen to music, or just enjoy peace and quiet. They have the same right to that that you do to having a 100 decibel conversation about fantasy football. And if you're listening to your IPod, the music should not be audible beyond your own headphones. Furthermore, the volume should be low enough that you can hear stuff around you in case somebody has to ask you a question or tell you something like "the bus is on fire".
  6. Thank the driver - a "thank you" goes a long way. Bus drivers have a surprisingly stressful job and are generally not paid all that well. Giving a sincere thanks is appreciated.

What do you find most frustrating about riding the bus?

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Submit a Comment

  • alecdifrawi profile image


    6 years ago from Orlando, FL

    It's been a long time since I rode a bus and this reminds me why!

  • Sychophantastic profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    Thanks for reading! I'm going to add one of your suggestions.

  • LHwritings profile image

    Lyndon Henry 

    6 years ago from Central Texas

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions — I've voted your tips Up and Useful. However, for the most part, I suspect the people doing most of the behavior you're flagging don't read, or read very little, and certainly don't read E-zines like HubPages, and probably don't care anyway.

    I ride the bus a lot, but often I do exit through the front door ((puts me slightly closer to where I need to go, or I avoid stepping into mud, or whatever). Outside the really big cities with consistently heavy transit ridership, this isn't a problem. If there's a crowd waiting to board at the front, I'll definitely use the rear door.

    One other gripe (and tip) I'd add to your list: As your bus approaches your stop, get up from your seat and stand at the exit door, so you can deboard quickly. It's very annoying when every time the bus stops, everyone must wait extra while the passenger who pulled the bell cord lifts oneself out of one's seat and moseys through the aisle to the door.

    Incidentally, one other "etiquette" note: On the transit system I ride here in Central Texas, the really savvy, longtime passengers thank the driver whenever they deboard the bus. I don't see this done in most other places.


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