Top Tips: Public transport etiquette

I mopped the flop sweat from my brow as I arrived at the office. I was flustered beyond measure. My experience on the bus was unpleasant this morning. Nothing more than usual I would guess, but with my sugars low my rational mind was on a little break. I logged on to the computer (so people would know that I was in the building) and dashed downstairs for a slice of toast, a boiled egg and a banana (as always, a creature of habit). To address the sugar crisis, I added a cheeky bowl of porridge to my tray – purely in the interest of restoring my mental equilibrium.

As I was wolfing down my bowl of gruel, I got to thinking about my daily journey to work and how it could be improved. The two obvious solutions are not currently possible – working from home (which would eliminate the need to commute) is a luxury not allowed to us plebs. Management seem to believe that this grim and hostile industrial estate is good for our souls.  The other alternative – driving my very own automobile  – might be an option one day, if I ever pass my driving test. For the moment I use the bus.

There are some simple ground rules however – not just for my journey on the bus, but for all public transport adventures – that would make for a far more pleasant trip. I am sure there are many more, but these are my personal Top Tips for Public Transport users.

1.       Before boarding a bus, tram or train, wait to see if someone is alighting before barging in, like a heifer in a hula-hoop. It’s a simple matter of waiting three seconds, and leads to a far more harmonious boarding and exiting experience.

2.  This second recommendation is particularly true for tram or train journeys as these have a tendency to get very crowded with many passengers standing. If you are on a crowded vehicle, and do not have a seat, then for the love of Dolly Parton don’t loiter by the doorway, blocking people trying to board or get off. Sometimes when the tram is so packed you cannot move, then you are excused, but if there is any chance of movement, then move away from the doorway. This is not rocket science.

3.    Rucksacks can be stylish and sophisticated, as well as being an eminently practical means of carrying your wallet, keys, phone and groceries. If you continue to wear it on your back, while standing, in public transport, instead of removing it and holding it in your hand however, then it raises the suspicion that you are too stupid to breathe. Spatial awareness on a crowded bus is mandatory. One false move with one of those bags on your back, could do someone an injury. This seems to be a particularly acute problem among tourist folk. It should not be. Travelling to a new city or country does not justify stupidity. Take the goddamned bag off.

4.    Resting your feet on the empty seat opposite you – don’t do it. This is self-explanatory.

5.     Resting a bag on the seat in front of, or beside you. This is a tricky one. I understand that having some room to oneself on a bus is a luxury, and that occasionally strange individuals will take a seat beside you, despite the presence of loads of other seats on the vehicle. This means that using a resting bag, as a deterrent to unwanted company can be useful. However when the bus gets crowded then please move it to your feet. People will ask you to do so anyway. Being proactive about it, eliminates the need for that awkward social interaction. Some morons huff and puff like they are doing you a favour when asked to perform this action. As if that gross Michael Kors bag paid for its own seat. A far more effective way of repelling neighbours – even on a crowded bus – is to drool, and whisper to yourself.

6.     If you play music or video clips on public transport and do not use headphones, then you are an ignorant asshole. No-one – I repeat NO-ONE, wants to hear your music. It’s actually an act of aggression against your fellow passengers to inflict this on them. The only reason people don’t throttle these offenders is the higher than likely probability the guilty parties are violent lunatics.

7.     If you are more civilised than the Neanderthals described in point six above, you will have invested in a set of headphones, so you can enjoy your music in relative silence. However please make sure these are expensive headphones, and that you keep your music at a low volume. It can still be heard you know. At 8am some people have a very bleak outlook on life. It is inappropriate to subject them to your musical tastes – even when you think you are shielding them from it, you are not. I did not want to hear ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers this morning.

8.     Telephone conversations while travelling – see point six above. Shrieking at someone over the phone for the duration of a bus journey, is a sign of how very, very common you are. It displays your lack of elegance, taste and glamour. Occasionally when there is a bitter and heated domestic argument happening, it can be riveting. More often it is just bothersome noise. Your life is of interest to no-one but yourself. Keep your voice down and keep it short. Please.

9.     Personal hygiene. All passengers need to shower regularly. This is not up for debate. If you are unsure as to how long it takes before you can be smelled by your fellow passengers, then it means you are not showering often enough. Here’s a helpful hint – shower every single day, and change your socks and underwear on a daily basis also. This is a fairly foolproof way to avoid this issue.

10.     If an old or infirm person, or a woman either carrying a small child, or about to give birth at any moment boards the bus, then offer your seat. Some older people might take grave offence at being regarded old enough to be offered a seat. Most won’t.

11.     If you are a regular passenger on the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station train ,then you might have met the Foot Pervert. I have never met him but I have been informed by three different females of my acquaintance of his behaviour. He is a guy in a business suit – quite respectable looking – who sits opposite women in open toed sandals. He offers them money touch their feet, for the duration of the journey. Take it from the women of the Netherlands – this is not an appropriate or welcome request for the vast majority of them.

Happy travels.



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