While these things seem like common sense, one of the things that I’ve learned while driving the bus is that common sense is anything but common, unfortunately. So I wanted to suggest a few things that will make everyone’s day run smoother.
Most of these are drawn from my experience as a bus operator, but they’re widely applicable no matter where you take the bus. They’re applicable whether you take the bus every day during your commute or only once in a blue moon going out somewhere.
Posts out there that discuss etiquette on public transportation come mostly from the point of view of being courteous to your fellow riders, but it’s important to be courteous to the bus operator, too. Wherever you are, they are just trying to do their job; that includes collecting fare and dealing with passengers all while driving safely and watching out for hazards on the road. It can be a lot to deal with all at once, and discourteous passengers just make it more challenging and a lot less pleasant.
Have your fare ready.
Riding the bus, have your fare ready when you step on. Have your card out already so that you can tap it, or have the exact change for your fare. Pay your fare quickly, and then step further into the bus so that the rest of the passengers can continue boarding. If there is a line of people out the door of the bus while one person fumbles through their purse to look for change, it holds up the bus.
If you don’t have your fare ready, let the operator know, step inside, and let everyone who does have their fare ready pay. Doing this allows the bus to keep moving. Which brings me to the next point of public transportation etiquette…
Don’t use speakerphone.
Especially, especially at the farebox. Speakerphone is useful for a lot of instances, but when you’re getting on the bus and having a conversation on speakerphone, it broadcasts your business to everyone else on the bus. Moreover, continuing to have a conversation on speakerphone while paying at the farebox is just downright rude. Additionally, it means you are likely to be focused on your conversation and miss any instruction given to you by the bus operator. In fact…
Don’t play your music on speaker.
At all. Just don’t do it.
Wear headphones! Always wear headphones. By wearing headphones and keeping your music at a low, reasonable volume, you can both block out the noise of the bus— after all, buses are big vehicles full of people and that can be really noisy— and you can be considerate of those around you.
On most public transportation systems, loud or disruptive music is not only rude, but it’s additionally against the rules. It’s posted, and that means that you’re really better off obeying it. If your music is too loud, other passengers and the bus operator are all within their rights to ask you to turn it down. And if someone does ask you to turn it down, it’s to your absolute advantage to listen.
Don’t smoke at the bus stops.
Putting your cigarette out right before you get on the bus or right as the bus rolls up to the stop means that I’m holding my breath trying not to cough and simultaneously trying not to breathe in the smell of cigarettes. Not only that, but in some cities smoking in public places is illegal and carries a hefty violation fine. Lastly…
Let passengers exit first, before boarding.
I’ve entirely lost count of the number of times I’ve pulled up to a bus stop, opened the doors, and people just barge straight in. Meanwhile, there’s someone trying to exit the bus who now has to wait for people who just got on, and it’s the equivalent of a traffic jam in a narrow road.
When the bus arrives, wait a minute and let people exit before boarding the bus. By waiting, you actually save time and help the bus continue on schedule. Although the common rule should be that you board through the front doors and exit through the rear doors, there are instances in which this doesn’t work out, especially when the rear doors of the bus are a little farther from the curb, or open into bushes or uneven ground. Potentially, the person trying to exit through the front door could be elderly or have small children with them. Whatever the reason, it all basically comes down to this…
A little bit of courtesy goes a long way.
And if you’re uncertain of something while you’re riding the bus? Ask the bus operator a question. I might not know the answer, but if I don’t, someone else on the bus might.