Opinion: Thank you for saying 'thank you' to bus drivers

Mar 3 2017, 2:27 am

Four and a half years ago I was lucky enough to make the move from England to Vancouver.

There’s no doubt that Vancouver is one of the finest cities on the planet, but I still miss a few things about the motherland – the BBC, bone dry sarcasm, and readily available pasties being just three of them.

But one thing I certainly don’t miss about Blighty is our public transit.

Overpriced, overcrowded, and inherently unreliable; public transport in the UK is anything but easy. In contrast, Vancouver’s Transit network is like something out of a science-fiction utopia – an efficient, affordable, and on the whole reliable system that lets you get from A to B without having to wedge your face in someone else’s armpit.

But what I love most about Vancouver’s transit system however, is how everyone says “thank you” to their bus drivers.

A simple act of Canadian kindness

Honestly it’s incredible, a simple act of Canadian kindness that brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

It’s something I’ve never experienced before. After all, where I come from the average interaction with the person driving your bus doesn’t extend much beyond colloquial grunts and awkward arguments over the correct change.

So I just want to say “thank you” Vancouver. Thank you for saying “thank you” to your bus drivers.

It really is one of the things that made me fall in love with your incredible city, and I truly felt like I’d started to become a Vancouverite when I found myself uttering those simple words when exiting the bus. After all, it’s nice to be nice, it’s addictive even. And now I can’t get off a bus without yelling out my gratitude to the person driving it.

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But I have so many questions about Vancouver’s penchant for public transit politeness.

How did the thanking begin?

Does everyone in the city do it?

Do the bus drivers even like it? I mean, I can imagine that having people yell “thank you” from halfway down a bendy bus can be irritating when it happens every 30 seconds.

My biggest question however is whether this is something that is unique to Vancouver or whether it is something that happens across Canada as a whole?

Common across Canada?

In my own limited travels across the world, Vancouver is the only place I’ve been to where this phenomenon of thanking exists. A straw poll of the staff here at Daily Hive Towers reveals a similar experience. In fact, apart from the occasional expat moving to other parts of the country no one here had seen their fellow passengers thanking drivers in Canada’s other major cities.

Former Vancouver Chief Planner Brent Toderian recently put the question to his Twitter followers. The response was overwhelming with people from across the globe chiming in on the subject of  transit etiquette.

So is this a uniquely Vancouver thing to do? And if so, shouldn’t we as a city be more proud of our polite passengers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Daniel BettridgeDaniel Bettridge

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