Seattle Times readers advise bus riders on proper commuting etiquette. Take off your backpack; offer your seat to the elderly or pregnant; and please — don’t clip your nails on the bus.
As one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, Seattle has been going through some growing pains. Once-comfortable buses are now squeezed for space during rush hour, filled with commuters who — unlike those in New York City or Chicago — didn’t grow up navigating so many strangers in such close proximity. While King County Metro has a list of official rules for proper behavior, some are ignored and others are unwritten.
We asked readers for tips on commuting etiquette, and they had sound advice.
Some requests were very particular: “Keep the expectorating to a minimum,” a reader pleaded. Others were simple common sense, culled from years of living in other cities with large public-transportation systems.
In Busan, South Korea (population 5 million), for instance, where Kenna Hodgson Smith taught English abroad, “Everyone loads from the front, exits out the back. Easy and fast!” (Yes, we agree, this would make sense.)
Here are 12 tips for new (or just newly crowded) Metro riders.
1. No grooming
“When I see people putting on makeup on the bus, I’m flabbergasted. The bus isn’t a place for personal maintenance,” said S.B. Richman, a Seattleite who lived for two years in Guangzhou, China, where she once saw a bus catch fire after someone left a burning cigarette behind. Commuter Zach Bartmess, of Spokane, seconded her: “Don’t clip your nails and then leave them on the seat. Please. For the love of God.”
2. Don’t take up more than one seat ? ????
Or: No “manspreading”! That’s the common term for it, but men and women can be guilty of it. Michelle Jones, who rides the No. 5 from Fremont to Sodo, said: “Unless you’re very large, your legs should occupy your seat, not those on either side of you.” ??Also, said Diana Greshtchuk, a commuter who lived in San Francisco for nine years and Sydney, Australia, for three, “Your bag didn’t pay a fare so it doesn’t get its own seat.”
3. Take off your gigantic backpack
“Remove it from your back when standing in the aisle. Not only is there more room for others, you reduce the chance of whapping someone who is seated in the face,” said Kim Brown, who’s lived in Detroit and Dallas.
4. Stay to the right on stairs and escalators; pass on the left
“When leaving the Seattle tunnel, or using any escalators connected with mass transit, stay to the right for standing, left for walking,” said ?Karis Cady of Shoreline, who recently traveled to Washington, D.C. “?I learned this in Seattle but it was strictly enforced in D.C.” ?
5. Get better headphones
“Wear headphones,” said Annabel Foley, an ex-Seattleite who is currently in London. “We don’t all love the same music as you?.” Foley, who grew up in Dublin, added: “The noise levels are so different. I think British people are so reserved on public transport and have way more silent rules.”
6. No loud cellphone conversations
“Cellphones! They have a text option. I don’t want to hear your personal phone conversation on the bus,” wrote Diana Glassman, who commuted from Tacoma to Olympia for 12 years. “Text. Your. Friends. Please.”
7. Give your seat up for injured, pregnant, physically challenged or elderly people
“In Sydney, schoolchildren in uniforms who take public transport to school always stand and give up seats if anybody older than them gets on the bus,” said Greshtchuk. “I really admired that.”
8. Don’t eat smelly food
“Don’t eat food, especially odorous food,” said Tobin Williamson. Or any food, really. One commuter remembered watching a man eat his breakfast sandwich and sip his coffee. When some of the coffee spilled on the floor, “a man in his 70s slipped as he was getting off and broke his hand,” the reader wrote.
9. No public displays of affection, please
“I lived in Budapest in the early ’90s where PDA was an ever-present part of public transit — and I’m not talking about a digital assistant,” said Vicki Paulus. “I just remember a lot of teenagers making out on the metro while reading my book. Privacy expectations were very different there with families of four to five living in one- or two-bedroom flats.”
10. Leave vertical poles for the height-challenged
“Let the short women hold onto the pole or low portion of bars,” said Nina Bunni, who is 5’2”. “Nothing frustrates me more than a crowded bus with a 6-foot man wrapped around a pole and all I’m left with is the loop I can barely reach.”
11. Face the same direction
“Standing passengers should face forward to maximize room on crowded buses,” said Anna Roth, of Ballard. She added: “I think people don’t like to face forward on the bus because it’s easier to maintain your balance if you stand sideways with your feet planted wide apart.” But facing forward helps more people get home on time.
12. Move all the way to the back
“Move back when standing in the aisle,” said Kim Brown, of West Seattle. “Really move back — you won’t die if you touch someone’s sleeve or elbow. Cram in there so others can get on the bus.”