Public transportation plays a pivotal role in moving people across the region everyday with 1.2-million trips made daily on transit. Vancity Buzz has compiled a comprehensive list of public transit etiquettes and rules that are widely accepted as courteous and respectful policies, but may not be commonly practiced.
This list is meant to help promote courteous behaviour on public transit as even the simplest of actions can ensure that everyone, including yourself, has a more enjoyable and positive transit experience. Taking transit means sharing a small space so it is important that all riders treat each other with both courtesy and respect.
This covers everything from bus stops to train stations to transit vehicles (buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express).
1. Stand on your right, walk on the left. When walking along a station building passageway/hallway or using the escalators and stairs, always stand on your right side. Allow people who are quicker to pass on left, it is no different from the rules of the road.
2. Form an orderly line when boarding a bus, train or ferry. Do not budge or push.
3. Let passengers exit first. Whether it be at a bus stop, train station or ferry terminal, when the doors to a vehicle slide open always let the passengers inside exit first before attempting to board yourself. Stand on either side of the doors to let passengers exit – do not block their way and do not attempt to board the vehicle until everyone that needs to get off has done so.
Be attentive and allow any parents with strollers, disabled (especially those with wheelchairs) or seniors to exit a vehicle first.
4. Do not block the doors. Do not block doors while inside a vehicle: this can create logjams and it disrupts the flow of passengers from entering and particularly exiting. If you are in a crowded train or bus and you happen to be standing at the doorway and people also need to get out, step out of the vehicle to let passengers out and then step back.
5. Stand clear of doorways while inside a transit vehicle so that doors can properly and fully close the first time. Vancouverites also have a bad habit of treating SkyTrain doors like elevator doors: do not hold the doors open, it can cause delays in the automated train system.
6. Pay your fare: do not fare evade. You are stealing from everyone if you do not pay your transit fare and give yourself a free ride. If you are found without a ticket during fare inspection, you could face a fine of $173 and it is something you will have to pay if you want to obtain or renew your driver’s license.
7. Have your fare ready before a bus arrives at the stop: be prepared. If you cannot find it right away, do not hold up the bus by stepping to the side and letting others board first. Taking your time to board the bus and fumbling around for your fare ticket or change while stalling the bus from moving hurts the efficiency of the system and holds up other passengers from reaching their destination in a timely manner.
Time is money, and stalling is inconsiderate for everyone aboard. As well, when you are near your destination, start moving towards the nearest vehicle exit doors to reduce stopping time and to make your exit less difficult (especially inside a crowded bus).
8. One seat per person is common etiquette, especially during peak hours and when the seats inside the vehicle are almost completely occupied.
9. Seats are for your bottoms only: keep your dirty shoes away from the seats – do not rest your feet on a seat.
10. Bathe and clean your clothes regularly. Funky smelling passengers should not be part of the norm of the public transit experience. Wear deodorant but do not douse yourself either as it can get too strong in such small spaces. Your time on transit is also not time for you to catch up on your personal hygiene: please do not floss your teeth and clip your nails on transit.
11. Refrain from having loud conversations; talk softly and quietly. Not just with your friends and fellow passengers, but this also means no loud conversations on your mobile phone. Set your phone onto vibrate if possible. Be considerate of other passengers.
Also keep in mind the language you are using while carrying out conversations – no foul or offensive language. Polite social behaviour is perfectly normal, but please remember that your fellow passengers are not your new best friend.
12. Abstain from bringing anything onboard that occupies a lot of space. Excessive bags that take up multiple seats and/or significant aisle room is highly discouraged as it prevents others from being able to sit or even board a vehicle during busy peak times. Instead, consider other forms of transport to get where you need to go. However, if you have one or two pieces of luggage (especially on the Canada Line), that is perfectly fine.
I have also seen people attempting to bring onboard items as random as patio furniture to large and dangerous propane tanks, even though it should be obvious that public transit is not your vehicle for that. Assistance animals are certainly permitted, and for all other pets (small dogs, cats, rabbits and small fur-bearing or feathered animals) they are also allowed on transit as long as they are in small, hand-held cages.
13. No foods and drinks. Do not eat onboard transit. Be considerate of other passengers: do not bring smelly foods aboard a train as smells intensify in small spaces. There is always the risk of sticky spills, but if you must bring fluids aboard (besides water) please ensure it is inside a resealable lid – do not bring an open container or drink aboard a transit vehicle.
14. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and away from people whenever possible. The common practice is to sneeze and cough inside your elbow – not into your hand.
15. If you are listening to music from your earphones, turn down your music as it can be audible to other passengers (not to mention that this cannot be good for your ear drums). In addition, music blaring from big speakers and portable devices is obviously not acceptable.
16. Give up your seat to the people who really need it if no other seat is available to them. This means young children, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled. Be attentive and courteous with those who are in need of a seat.
17. Do not confront and argue with rude people. Make it a positive experience as much as possible. Do not confront individuals (especially for your own safety). Try to remember that when someone else is rude, you probably will not have to see that person again after you get off the train or bus, so there is no point in making things worse with confrontation.
18. Hold on to the handrails when standing inside a transit vehicle, and stand sideways parallel to the vehicle’s motion. This will largely prevent any unbalancing falls, for your own sake and the safety of others around you.
19. Remove your backpack inside a crowded vehicle. Also think about how your belongings may obstruct someone. Do not place bags or packages in the middle of an aisle.
20. Respect your bus driver and other transit staff. In addition, refrain from carrying out long questions or even entire social conversations with a bus driver if it means holding up a bus from moving.
21. Nobody likes to get left behind: move to the rear of the bus or train. We all have places we need to be and want to go in a timely manner. Sometimes, transit vehicles can be packed and this means some passengers will be left to wait for another vehicle to come. However, not everyone has to wait for the second or even third bus or train: you would be surprised how much more space could be made for more passengers if all standees moved all the way to the rear of the bus and train.
22. Do not litter. Whatever you bring onto public transit also leaves with you as you exit. Bring your trash with you and dispose of it properly into a trash can or recycling bin.
23. This one is beyond simple: do not vandalize any transit property. Everything from scratching windows, destroying seats, graffiti, and even peeling off information and directional stickers with your fidgety fingers. Is there really a point to any of this?
24. No smoking on any transit vehicle, train station and bus stop.
25. No soliciting or loitering.
BONUS. Don’t open train doors. Be considerate of other passengers as opening train doors only prolongs train delays. It is also unsafe as the tracks are electrified with 600 volts and trains could begin to move at anytime without notice. Anyone caught opening train doors and walking on the tracks could be fined upwards of $230, in addition to possible criminal charges.
Featured image: NYC My Radio Network