September 14, 2009 | Lists
For a single person, the environmental cost of using an automobile regularly and not carpooling is the equivalent of dynamiting a furry woodland creature EVERY FIVE MINUTES. And with such excellent public transportation in many big cities, why risk being taken on a scenic tour for $85 by a cabbie who refuses to heed your fistful of Google map printouts?
Public transportation is economical and environmentally-friendly and it would be ideal if it were somehow feasible for each passenger to have his/her own car or bus. Since humans must be shoe-horned together into tight spaces, public transport — like elevators and ATMs — needs to be governed by a basic code of conduct. Here we offer our Public Transit Etiquette Rules, with the suggestion that readers remain pedestrians until each of these rules is memorized and taken to heart.
(Editor’s Note: We have left out criminal behaviors, such as frotteurism, and public urination [the former is OK only if you are already on intimate terms with the frotter-ee, and nobody will say much if you do the latter after 2am, though it is not encouraged]. Also not included are panhandling and ogling — the former is never acceptable — commit welfare fraud like the rest of the civilized world, Mr. Lazy — the latter only when someone truly funny looking catches your eye.]
1. Do not wait for a bus at a subway station or another transfer point and take it for only one stop. In the several minutes it took for you wait for the bus, you could have already been there and had a cigarette or sucked down a mint, you indolent slob. Everybody else on the bus will hate you intensely for making the bus stop 100 feet after it leaves the transfer point.
2. Do not talk to someone who is reading/listening to music. Doing either is an international sign for “Leave me alone creep”. [Editor’s note: this is only applicable if the person in question is unattractive]
3. Do not occupy the aisle seat of an empty two-person seat unless the train or bus is relatively empty. Nobody should have to crawl over your extremities to get by as if in a movie theater.
4. If you occupy the inside portion of a two-person seat and rest a bag/purse/your groceries on the aisle seat, it is acceptable for other passengers to rummage through your things and/or sit on them/stuff them out the window.
5. Only bring a bike on the subway between 10am and 2 pm. If a bicycle is brought on during rush hour, it is acceptable for other passengers to form an ad hoc angry mob and try to shove the wannabe Lance Armstrong’s head through the spokes.
6. If you emit odors that would test a vulture’s gag reflex, do not raise your arms. If you smell regardless of whether you raise your arms, do not board public transport. Applying more perfume or cologne than could be found in a brothel’s supply closet is not an acceptable alternative.
7. If you ring the bell too late and the driver cannot stop in time, do not get snippy—it was your own damn fault. Get out and walk a stop rather than complain to 50 people who will only find you loathsome.
8. Do not open windows on buses with AC as it warms the bus and brings in fumes from outside. Other passengers are entitled to slam windows shut on someone caught in the act of doing this. When questioned, they can always point to the sign asking passengers to keep head and hands inside the bus and say that the party with the newly broken fingers did not follow that guidance.
9. Do not rest feet on adjacent seats unless you’re a pretty girl in a miniskirt or a sundress.
10. If you put your bare feet on an adjacent seat and we see it, we’re going to get Bernhard Goetz out of retirement.
11. One thing we neglected to mention in our Elevator Etiquette list applies here as well. If someone on a bus has already pushed the button for their stop, do not attempt to do so again. It makes you look like someone who had trouble with the oven = hot thing as a kid.
12. Do not make small-talk with the driver unless a) you know them or b) the bus is relatively empty. Unless Truman Capote-like bon mots roll off your tongue constantly, nobody wants to be trapped in a conversation with you.
13. It is only acceptable to strike up a conversation with somebody sitting or standing directly beside you. Across the aisle chatter is banned. This is doubly true if one or both parties is intoxicated.
14. Do not crank your IPod to a level that would deafen a nightclub bouncer.
15. If you have a pushcart, do not treat people’s feet like you’re tilling a field.
16. If standing, hang onto a pole at all times. Unless you are an Olympian gymnast, odds are you could easily end up in someone’s lap or sprawled out on the floor with your collection of gold coins scattered every which way.
17. Don’t bother a driver for directions if your destination is harder to crack than the Da Vinci code. There is this communication device called the internet. Use it, find a help desk or ask a fellow passenger. The driver has more important things to worry about, such as frustrating other motorists by hogging the road and easing into stops nice and slow.
18. Do not gamble when it comes to turnstiles. If you feel like you might not squeeze through, look for another way in.
19. On an escalator, stand on the right and walk up the left, or, pick a side that other people are standing on and stand behind them. If you take up both sides of said escalator, then take the stairs as you need the exercise.
20. On a train, be discreet when consulting a subway map. Do not bend over fellow passengers and expose them to your upper torso and associated odors.