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The How-To Lounge: Public Transportation Etiquette

Since everyone is now contributing a little bit more to living a green lifestyle, more and more people are using public transportation. Of course we all love the comfort of our own car, but let's be honest, mass transit isn't all that bad if every passenger practices proper public transportation etiquette.

To see the do's and don'ts,

  • Always give up your chair to the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, or children. It is infuriating when people do not follow this rule
  • If you are traveling with a lot of bags, keep them in your allotted area. Other people's stuff invading your territory can be incredibly irritating
  • If you see that the bus or train is crowded, immediately move to the back so more people can get on
  • Try not to crowd the doors so people can have easy entering and exiting access
  • Don't eat or drink on public transit. If the bus or train suddenly stops or swerves, your coffee could go flying and spill on your neighbor
  • If you're sick, cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough. Public transit is a breeding ground for germs so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when you get to your final destination
  • Talking on the phone is the biggest no no when taking public transportation and a specific pet peeve of mine. No one wants to listen to your drama on his or her way home from work
  • When you're traveling with a friend, don't talk too loud and don't say anything you wouldn't want advertise over a loud speaker -- you never know who is traveling with you
  • When listening to music, keep the volume at a happy medium. There's nothing worse than overhearing multiple iPods at the same time
  • Primping should be done at home. Don't do your make up, clip or file your fingernails or brush your hair when on the bus or train
  • PDA on public transit is hands down just a no no. Holding hands and a peck goodbye are acceptable, but making out should be kept behind closed doors

These simple rules may seem obvious to some, but others need a push in the right direction, so I hope my tips help. Safe travels!


Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i wouldn't give uo a seat to a woman just because she's pregnant, it's a not a disease :) if she's huge, like 8 or 9 month then yeah of course :) but other than that...
nefertiti nefertiti 10 years
We have a big problem with this where I live. The moment a pregnant woman, or elderly person enters the bus, all the young, able bodied men who have seats immediately pretend to be sleeping to avoid giving up their seats. It's disgusting. And if you're taking the bus to work in the mornings, the bus driver almost always has to ask people to move in to the back of the bus. Not very gracious at all.
stephsharer stephsharer 10 years
the WORST thing that happened on the DC metro to me was a stupid woman sitting right next to me who put her lunch inbetween us. so half of her lunch was touching my leg. well, thats annoying to begin with (invading space) but then i realized it was her freaking COLD SODA that was nearest to me. i was cold and nearly wet the whole 20 minutes to work. what a horrible witch!
fashionshmashion fashionshmashion 10 years
i don't like when people take up more than one seat on purpose. or when people just start talking to you, and you don't even know them. i like peace and quiet when i'm traveling to and from work.
christiana christiana 10 years
I really agree with these also- after living in NYC and now in Boston, I take public transportation everyday. One other thing that is really rude is when someone has a backpack on, and slams it into surrounding people without even noticing. Especially when it is large- like a hiking backpack. ARGH!
Greggie Greggie 10 years
The PDA thing should really apply to public places altogether. It's tacky to make out in public, whether you're on a bus, hanging out in a mall, etc.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
amanda02215, I laughed so hard I had tears...take a cab...that's great. I know exactly what you are talking about and it's just gross.
trendyindc trendyindc 10 years
HistoryGeek, really it is annoying when people stand in your way when you're trying to get to work. I realize it sounds like something small and little but so do ALL of these tips, which is why they are so simple to follow. By the way, I think no one should HAVE to offer their seat (with the exceptions already mentioned) if they are seated. If a seat opens up or someone is clearly having a hard time standing, manners would suggest that you offer it to the person who's been there the LONGEST. I have two perfectly good feet, I can stand.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
browneyedgirl: I dont' like setting my bag between my legs on the train because 1: if it's that crowded, someone can easily grab it when they get off the train and 2) I do not want anything but the bottoms of my shoes touching the carpet ont he train. rubialala: I agree with you about the gentleman giving up his seat to a lady. It has only happened twice to me that i can remember, but i was so awestruck I said thanks, sat, and it was just such a nice gesture. Here are my pet peeves: 1)If you are going to ride the Metro, WEAR DEODORANT. I really don't like smelling your stinky BO when i am crammed against you and already in a bad mood because it is so packed. 2)Don't act all pissed because people are pilingo nto the train. Most of us are trying to catch a bus somewhere. That means that although the next train is "only" 7 minutes behind, that means I might have to wait an extra 30 minutes for my bus. 3) realize that when a pile of people are waiting to board the train, the people that enter first are normally being pushed frmo behind, and although it seems they are being rude, they can't help it and are just as annoyed as you are. 4)I second whoever mentione the spreadeagle guy thing. So annoying.
Jessielindsey Jessielindsey 10 years
I hate PDA on public transportation! I used to have to watch this couple make out at 7 in the morning on the shuttle to class every day! That was waaay too nauseating before I had even had my coffee!
amanda02215 amanda02215 10 years
I used to ride the T in Boston a few times a day, and it was such a disaster in the morning. The worst times, though, were right after Red Sox games and Friday nights. Here's a hint: if you're unbelievably drunk and feel like you might throw up from the jerking trolley car, TAKE A CAB.
insana insana 10 years
Yea .. i agree with you Rubia.. its the basic of manner for any guy to give up his seat for a female... actually it pisses me off
melda melda 10 years
our problem with public transportation is even worse in my country i never use it thats why i spend whole a lot of money
sparklestar sparklestar 10 years
If I had heavy shopping bags then I wouldn't get up or give up my seat because standing with those is HARD! However if a pregnant woman got on and I was in your situation Anne then I would have probably just poked a man randomly and told him to shift his ass. =D
annebreal annebreal 10 years
Gotta say the giving up the seat thing is so obvious to me but not a lot of other people! I rode the train out of Chicago during commute-time, and my train was mostly businessmen types, and the train was full. I was in the last car, flirting with a random suit guy, and a pregnant lady waddles in looking for a seat. I think I actually might've been the only other girl in sight, and this lady was about to POP. And no one got up for her! She just stood there looking around and guys pretended not to see her, including the one I was talking to. After a minute I went ahead and got up and was really friendly to her about it and told her she needed that seat way more than me. And I definitely had to stand up for like 20 minutes until the next stop! I was glaring at all of them. Jerks.
potterlove potterlove 10 years
Very true all this. But I gotta say PDA happens A LOT in the bus I ride. Probably because of the fact that I ride a bus full to the brim of hormone-raged high schoolers...
summer-roberts summer-roberts 10 years
These are good tips for being out in public in general. If you are a slow walker, move to the right so others can pass you. If you smoke, exhale completely before entering the building.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
facin8me, I'm not saying we have to accept. Perhaps I am old fashioned but I think it is polite for men to do that. I would just like them to offer, we can say no thank you. The point is not about whether or not we can stand on the train, it's about whether or not a guy is a true gentleman. My husband does it and I love him for it and it's how I'm going to raise my son.
facin8me facin8me 10 years
Good lord rubia- I wasn't aware that we, as women, were such delicate flowers that we couldn't stand on the train. I'm not sure how having a vagina makes my discomfort with standing more pressing than that of a man's.
br0wneyed9irl00 br0wneyed9irl00 10 years
i have one addition: if you have a bag, and decide/have to stand, put it on the floor between your feet. that way you don't whack seated people in the face. and the elevator rule, where people get off before anyone gets on.
rubialala rubialala 10 years
These are all great tips Dear. I hate it when people do not have common courtesy. And let me add to the first item: I think that all guys/boys/men over the age of 18 should give up their seat for any female - not just old/pregnant/children. It's just the right thing to do, at least IMO.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 10 years
how can we get these rules out the rest of America?
freegracefrom freegracefrom 10 years
HistoryGeek - Yeah, that was a big thing in DC from what I remember. Standing on the right side so other people can get by. People get crazy about that there. In general, DC's metro is really so much better in comparison to most of the other subways in comparison. The "sardine can" sensation is unavoidable during rush hour, unfortunately.
em1282 em1282 10 years
facin8me--hahaha! Yes, it's tough with the smelly trains...and now the fare hikes coupled with the service cuts. Don't even get me started. I think overall obliviousness really bugs me though...I can't tell you how careful I am about following rules, and how many times people have blatantly ignored them (not given up seats, shoved me, crammed newspapers and backpacks in my face--it never ends). Then again, I guess you get what you pay for, eh?
HistoryGeek913 HistoryGeek913 10 years
If only everyone would follow these rules. I just got back from a week in DC, where I was dependent on the metro, and let me tell you - 95% of the people did not follow most of the rules. There was, however, a big article in the Times about how annoying tourists are when they don't stand on the right side of the escalator. Yeah, as if that's the worse of the offences by people on the metro. Ugh. I was so ready to get back to the Midwest and my nice (fuel efficient) car so I could just drive myself to work and not deal with being smashed in a giant tin can with dozens of other people just to get to the store.
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