Popular Culture

15 Unwritten Rules for Riding Public Transportation (And the People Who Break Them)


If you’re one of the millions of city-dwellers who can’t afford to drive their own cars, or you’ve taken the noble step of forsaking the automobile for the “greener” pastures of public transportation, then you know what it’s like to be at the mercy of the general populace’s complete disregard for common decency. Posted rules don’t seem to bother most travelers, and the age-old common sense type don’t seem to register, either. These are the top 15 unwritten rules of public transportation — and they’re broken every day.

Get off your cellphone.

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This is probably the single most oft-broken rule in existence when it comes to public transportation. In Japan, they actually have a hard, written rule that says no talking on cell phones while on the train. Here, we have to put up with some lady railing on about her day to some unknown stranger, completely unaware that half a bus-load of people is collectively gritting their teeth because she won’t shut up. If it’s really so important that you can’t just hang up and wait til you’re off the bus, then at least talk quietly. Nobody cares what you had for breakfast this morning, and what you read afterward, and what you decided to wear when you found out that it was 5 degrees cooler outside than you expected.

You only need one seat.

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Is it really so difficult to choose one seat and sit there? Nothing is more aggravating than getting on a crowded bus to find that 15 people are standing in the aisle, while some douchebag is hogging up two, or even three seats for no apparent reason other than the fact that he has absolutely no manners whatsoever. If you’re so xenophobic that you can’t have somebody sitting next to you, then walk. You shouldn’t be using public transportation in the first place.

You’re the only one enjoying your ghettoblaster.

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You may think the new T-Pain track is the greatest piece of musical mastery to ever have been recorded, and you may like it so much that you feel you should share it with other people. The problem here, is that other people probably don’t share your opinions about T-Pain, and they also don’t really appreciate your blasting his music in the middle of a crowded bus or subway. If you love your T-Pain so much that you can’t go 15 minutes without his sweet aural tones, then you should wear headphones.

Take a shower and wear deodorant!

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If public transportation has one obvious constant, it’s that it’s public in nature. It’s also quite often very crowded. Crowded, public, cramped spaces are not good when the guy whose exposed armpit is 3 inches from your face hasn’t taken a shower in 3 days, and has never heard of deodorant. Is it really that difficult to have personal hygiene? Take a shower every couple of days at the least, and please wear some deodorant!

Get a room!

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Contrary to the popular belief of hormonal teenagers, it is not in any way romantic to be making out in public places. When riding public transit, not much could make the confined space of a bus or subway car uncomfortable faster than two people who look like they’re about to turn the place into a porno set. Putting up with rude people is one thing, but nobody wants to see that.

Stop, nobody likes your singing. Seriously.

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Whether you’re drunk or not, there is absolutely no excuse for your terrible singing. At least, not when cruising the bus or subway. What’s worse is the times this happens and it’s not a drunk guy, but some girl with her headphones who suddenly thinks she’s Beyonce, and starts belting out the lyrics of whatever song is playing so loud through her cheap over-ear headphones that you can already hear it. The closest comparison would be bad karaoke, and people at least know what they’re getting into when they go see karaoke.

Stop staring!

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Nearly any time you get on a bus or subway, you have to deal with the guy who doesn’t know how to look down. He just stares, blankly, straight at whoever is unlucky enough to be directly in his gaze. This is one of the single most annoying things in existence, and yet there are still people who do this. Just stop staring!

Control your kids!

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Crying babies are annoying. It’s a fact of life. Screaming kids are annoying — also fact. There’s a certain limit to crying, screaming kids that people will put up with before throwing you off a bus, and it’s pretty high. Kids running up and down the aisles while screaming, on the other hand, should be grounds for immediate ejection. If you can’t control your kids, then don’t take them out in public at all, much less on public transit lines.

Don’t be a Plague Monkey.

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If you’re sick, stay home and get well. If you’re just a little sick, take some tissues with you and be courteous about your sneezing and coughing while in public. If you’re riding a bus and hacking up a lung so bad that you’re making everybody think they’ve just contracted some new strain of ebola, you’re doing it wrong. â€¨â€¨

Keep your smelly-ass food wrapped up!

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If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to eat your fish tacos that you just bought off the truck before hopping on the bus, then you should have waited at the bus stop and eaten them. Somehow, it’s completely unfathomable that people could actually dislike the smell of certain foods when they’re cooped up on a crowded bus or subway. Hard boiled eggs, fish, you name it — somebody’s busted it open and eaten it right in the middle of the aisle. The worst thing about this one is that it really doesn’t matter where you sit on the bus, the smell will make its way to you, and then you’re finished. It sticks to clothes, it sticks to your nostrils, it refuses to blow out the windows and it seeps into your very thoughts. It’s horrible, so just don’t be that guy. Wait til you get off, or finish your food before you get on.

Get up for the Disabled/Elderly/Preggers if you can.

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The front seats on every bus, along with the seats closest to the doors on most subways, are always marked “priority seating.” This means that should the bus be crowded when an old woman gets on the bus, that the 17-year-old cheerleader sitting in one of those seats has to get up and let the old woman sit there. First of all, this never happens. People never give up their seats in these sections, and if they do it’s usually because the driver told them to — and this is an actual rule. Common decency says that you should give up your seat to somebody who needs it more than you do, so do the decent thing, even if you’re not sitting in the marked section.

Have your bus fare ready when you get on!

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As if it weren’t bad enough having to wait at the crowded bus stop for the bus, that’s always late, you nearly always have to deal with the guy who decides to wait until he’s boarding the bus to fish for change in his pocket to pay the fare. If it’s not that, it’s the guy who thinks he can sweet-talk the driver into letting him ride for free, since he has no change in his pocket to begin with. Even worse are the women who actually have fare-cards, but leave them buried under 50 lbs of junk in their purses, which of course they wait til the last possible moment to sift through. Just have the fare ready when you’re boarding, it’s easier on everybody.

Wait your turn!

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If you stroll up to a bus stop and you find 12 people waiting there, it should be obvious that when the bus finally arrives, that you should be getting on after all the people who have been waiting there longer than you. Somehow, this simple piece of logic escapes most people, and they shove their way onto the bus ahead of people who diligently waited their turn. It says a lot about a person when they do this. It says they’re a douchebag.

Pick up your trash, this isn’t your apartment.

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People littering on the street is one thing, we all tend to get used to the fact that cities are dirty. Leaving your trash all over a bus, on the other hand, is another story. It’s just plain rude and disgusting. It ruins the trip for the people who have to step through — or sit on — your garbage. What’s worse is that it’s usually things like take-out cartons from the douchebag who was eating his nasty fish-lunch on the bus, or it’s the greasy cheese-wrapper from somebody’s Big Mac.

Talk quietly, we don’t want to hear your entire life story.

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We understand that you’re carrying on a conversation with your life-long friend, and that the juicy gossip is just too much to hold in for 15 more minutes, but if you’re going to be divulging the most intimate of secrets, do it quietly. None of the other passengers want to hear about how your husband’s nether-regions smell funny. Nobody wants to hear the entire life story of your third-cousin, who married your fourth-cousin’s sister-in-law’s best friend and moved to Reno to buy real-estate.


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