It’s that time of year again when most of us no longer have access to our parents’ vehicles and it’s becoming too cold to bike everywhere. Unless you plan on walking to campus (I’ve done it, I don’t recommend it) you’re going to ride the bus. Many Trent students come from smaller communities that don’t have transit routes, or communities that don’t have a transit system worth riding. This means many of us have almost no idea what transit etiquette is. Thankfully, you have me; a transit etiquette expert. That’s not even an overstatement. Transit etiquette is easier than a first-year Cultural Studies course. Observe:
1. Don’t make hateful comments on the bus. You shouldn’t be making comments like this anyway. However, even racists have to take the bus sometimes. If you are a racist you have to understand that nobody likes you and it would be much better for everyone if you closed your mouth as tightly as you’ve closed your mind. The same goes for sexists, homophobes, and any other hateful person. Transit is going to be used by everybody, including persons of colour, women, or members of the LGBTQ community. No one deserves to feel unwelcome because you felt the need to express your awful views. Like it or not, the bus is for everyone and they ought to be respected equally.
2. Don’t take up the seat next to you. You are one person—you get one seat. Sure, your bag is important, but it doesn’t get a seat because it is not a person. Try expressing your feelings for your bag by hugging it closely to your body or letting it play in the dirt on the floor, not by taking up all kinds of room and forcing other people to stand.
3. Get out of other people’s way. This one goes out to people in aisle seats who only turn their legs instead of getting up for their seat mate when they have to get off. Just get up, please! No one is going to take your seat because you got up to let someone out. The only people who might be worse are those who leave their feet in the aisle for people to trip on. Instead of affecting just one person these people’s lack of spatial awareness puts everyone who walks by them in danger. (Note: some folks are not able-bodied and can’t avoid doing these things. These people are obviously exempt from this rule.)
4. If there are no seats, go all the way to the back of the bus. If you stand at the front of the bus you block everyone else who is going to board the bus from making their way to the back. This disproportionately crowds the front of the bus. It also doesn’t allow you to notice when people have left their seats since you’ll likely be facing forward. I’ve been on a few buses that ended up with empty seats in the back and a densely packed crowd standing up front because no one ever turned around to see the empty seats. Standing so close to the front also obscures the driver’s view of what’s going on in the bus.
5. Line up at the bus stop and wait until everyone is off before you get on the bus. There are so many justifications for these two rules that I can’t believe I’m writing this. It doesn’t matter whether you’re first in line or last in line—the bus will arrive at the same time either way. This is true even if you push past the people exiting the bus. All you’re going to do is slow those people down and no time will really be saved. And let’s be honest, if you were really in a rush you wouldn’t take Peterborough Transit.
6. Do not listen to music so loudly that it will be heard by everyone else. Forget empathy; just do this one for you. If you expose yourself to high decibel sounds for extended amounts of time, you’ll damage your hearing. If you concentrate those high decibel sounds through headphones and send them directly against your ear drums so loudly that they bounce off and onto other peoples’ ear drums, you’ll damage your hearing even faster. And at least listen to a good song or something.
And that’s about it. Just follow these six simple rules and you’ll find that your bus riding experience will be much more enjoyable. In addition, no one will think you are a huge asshole, as people are apt to do if you push past everyone while loudly listening to Nickleback only to take up two seats and kick your legs out into the aisle after making a whole bunch of ignorant comments that are humiliating to certain people on the bus. Don’t be that guy.