I love using public transit, but some of my fellow passengers just don’t understand that public transit is not a private vehicle just for your enjoyment – but instead a shared experience for all of us. So, as a public service, I am going to give a few tips about how to be more polite on transit – and ensure you never get the evil eye from your fellow passengers.
Please, leave the heavy perfume and cologne at home. There is no reason in the world that I should smell you from half a train car away. Or half a block away, while I wait at the bus stop. A little dab here and there, and you are fine! I promise! Since we are on the subject of smells, don’t bring smelly food on the bus and devour it like it is your last meal. Seriously, the germs alone will ensure it is your last meal. Also, keep your shoes on your feet – and off of the seats! No one wants dirt and who knows what else on their clothes and/or hands.
Personal hygiene is personal for a reason. Trust me, no one wants to hear you clipping your fingernails or smell your nail polish. I’ll never forget the day last summer when the lady sitting next to me was clipping her fingernails and the nail landed in my lap. Seriously, what do you do in that situation? Let’s help avoid awkward moments for everyone, and take care of these things at home.
Give up your seat to the elderly, handicapped, pregnant women and people with small children. There’s nothing more coldhearted than seeing an able-bodied teenager or young adult sitting and jamming to their iPod, while someone’s grandma struggles to hold on to the subway pole. In the words of Mays Gilliam, “That ain’t right!”
Move over and let someone sit next to you, rather than letting your bag (or hips) have a seat on the train. As my favorite conductor on NJTransit says, “Did this bag buy a ticket? No? Alright, then move it or pay for the bag to ride, too.” I know it’s hard if you are overweight or tall to get comfortable, but don’t take up 2 or 3 seats. It’s just plain rude.
Is it that hard to exit out of the back of the bus? If riders exit from the back, this gives passengers a chance to load at the front quickly and efficiently, keeping the bus’ idle time down, and keeping the bus on schedule! On that note, don’t block the back doors just because you are getting off 5 stops from now. Move into a place where you are not blocking the exit, so other people can get off quickly!
Do the right thing and allow people to exit the train/subway car before entering. Pushing and shoving never gets much accomplished, and commuting is not supposed to be a contact sport. Waiting 5 seconds for people to exit will probably mean you can snag a seat or at least a comfortable standing position! Also, don’t block the doors. I know it is tempting to hold the doors open because you are only 2/3 the way into the crowded train car, but be a pal – let the doors go and wait on the next train. At rush hour, most subway trains come every 5-10 minutes – which is not long at all.
Take your trash with you! Did you know that most subway fires in the NYC Subway are because of trash like newspapers and food wrappers? I have yet to be to a subway station that doesn’t have trash cans – so find one and deposit your trash there, instead of on the tracks, platform or under your seat. Try to keep your coffee in its mug, versus on the floor of the bus or train. If you do make a spill, let someone know at the next stop, so it can be cleaned up before someone hurts themselves.
Don’t block the aisles with your luggage or strollers. This can be tough if you are short and unable to reach the luggage rack, or it is too difficult to close the stroller, but scout out places on the train or bus where you can be out of the way as much as possible. Or, try to travel at off peak times to reduce the likelihood of annoying other passengers.
Avoid personal (or confidential) conversations while riding. No one wants to hear about your date last night, who is getting laid off at your job or what the doctor said about that strange rash you have. If you really have to talk to someone, try keeping your voice down, mindful that other passengers might be napping, reading or working. Additionally, keep the profanity to a minimum. Some of us have sensitive dispositions, and cursing makes us very upset.
Be kind to your driver/operator/conductor. Like you, the driver/operator/conductor is a human. Unbelievable, right? Well, being that they are in fact human, we should try to be kind to him or her. Say “Thank you,” or “Good morning”. Let them know you appreciate their being there to serve you. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to brightening someone’s day.
It is so tempting to start singing and/or dancing when your favorite song starts playing on your iPod, but remember, a bus or train is not the place to perfect your American Idol performance. Be mindful that others may not want to hear your (off-key) singing or see your (really lame) dancing.
Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!