Public Interest Courtesy Rule #11

buses2.jpgTravelling on public transport can be a challenging and unpleasant experience for commuters. Whether making use of public transport at the beginning or end of the day, energy in the air is generally low, oddballs seem to be drawn to the environment, and we are confined in a relatively small space for what can be long periods of time with complete strangers.

It is therefore understandable that commuters want to pass their journey with a measure of comfort and keep some distance from said strangers and potential oddballs. However it is important to remember that many commuters would also like to have as comfortable a journey as possible and sit down rather than stand up.

Keeping this in mind and also remembering that seats are for paying commuters, please do not block use of any nearby seats by placing your bags and other belongings on the seat. If available, place your items in luggage racks which are designed for this purpose, or alternatively items may be placed at your feet or on your lap. It is also not acceptable to block use of the window seat next to you by sitting in the aisle seat and refusing to move; this is just downright rude.

Blocking seats and using seats to hold your belongings may be acceptable when travelling on quieter services, however when services are busy, failing to ignore the needs of those around you is considered to be rather impolite. This is especially true when people have to resort to standing up even though there is a seat available next to you. Be sure not to ignore people who are standing as this is a clear indication that your spare seat is required. Do not get huffy, irritated or annoyed at these people. After all you are enjoying a seat and you didn’t buy an extra ticket for your bags or for you to take up an additional seat unnecessarily.


  1. Tisha

    More excellent advice Tracey!

    The thing that drives me up the wall are people who don’t give up their seats to the elderly and pregnant women, I mean gosh how selfish can we be!?

    I’ve had many terrible experiences on public transportation [some wonderful ones too] especially on the New York City subways like one “gentleman” carrying a box and pretending he needed arm space just where his elbow met my chest! If I hadn’t been 17 and still rather shy I would have clobbered the bum.

    Thanks for another insightful post!

  2. Lx

    you should see how bad it is in the States–manners-wise.

  3. jan

    I don’t take public transit very often, but when I have there were so many violation of the general rules of politeness. I think this is exactly why people don’t take public transit unless they absolutely have to.

  4. Midwesterner in NYC

    Here in New York this happens a lot, but not many people put up with it. Opinions get voiced fairly quickly.

  5. LuckySnap

    I am thankful that I don’t take public transportation, but couldn’t image that it is very fun. I just picture it as a bunch of strangers staring straight ahead until they arrive at their stop. Sort like being on an elevator, where you stare at each floor as you are going up or down, not quite sure where to set your eyes. It’s too bad, people have to be so rude.

  6. Tracey

    Hi Tisha – Thanks as always. As you can tell I suffer from a lot of public transport rage! I’ve also noticed how people don’t give up their seats for those who are more deserving…I’m not sure when people became so mean.

    Hi Lx – If what goes on here is any indication I’m sure things in the States are far from acceptable as well…despite the environmental consequences and the cost sometimes I’m so jealous of people who drive to work and can avoid the insanity of other people.

    Hi Jan – I know what you mean. Unfortunately for me it isn’t really feasible to travel any other way to work – parking is too expensive in the city for it to be worthwhile…some days though I seriously consider doing it anyway!!

    Hi Midwesterner – I don’t think we are quite at the level yet of telling people off for acting in such a way. I’ve only seen it happen once on the train – and it was AWESOME!! Everyone else almost cheered it was such a good burn!

    Hi LuckySnap – Nice to see you here as ever. I am very envious of you not having to take public transport…it’s an absolute nightmare out there. What I wouldn’t give to avoid it – going to work is bad enough without having to deal with all the other people issues involved in just getting there and coming home. I am often struck by how strange it all is in the world with regards to the way we have to act. Someone tried to make a joke in an elevator the other day and people just ignored him…he was just trying to be friendly…weird!!

  7. Navilyn

    Yeah, people, if the seat says, ‘For The Elderly’, let them sit there, don’t hog the seat! I’ve been on the Tube in London many times and the younger generation just don’t have the respect to get up and offer someone ‘older’ a seat. Rather annoying…

    I remember once, I was on the Tube going home, and I was standing. This pregnant lady came on. I was astonished that no one offered her a seat. Luckily she was only going two stops!

    Oh, one more thing, if you know you’re going to work in the morning on a packed Tube, please shower before you leave home! Not a good start to the day when you’ve got someone’s armpit in your face, and it does not smell like deordorant…

  8. Nico

    If I got started on this I would never be finished.

  9. Tracey

    Hi Navilyn – I’m not sure when the whole ‘not giving up a seat’ thing started, but I’ve noticed it too. When I was at school (now that makes me sound old!!) I would not have dared to NOT give up my seat for an adult – in fact it was a policy enforced by our school. Now though it seems that doesn’t really matter and that kids rule the world!!

    I could not agree with you more about the whole regular showering and deodorant routine – honestly you think people would have figured out that modern life, busy times and smelly people just don’t mix well!!

    Hi Nico – I know what you mean…I had to keep the rule quite succinct, but I have a feeling this one will spawn a whole series of related rules…stay tuned. 8)

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