For the first 23 and a half years of my life I managed to get by without having to use public transport on a regular basis.
For the first 23 and a half years of my life I managed to get by without having to use public transport on a regular basis. I grew up in rural Suffolk which had an appalling bus service and when I went to university, everything I could possibly need was within a square mile of where I lived so I was good there too.
When I moved down to London earlier this year for an internship at Total Politics magazine I immediately became reliant on public transport and I quickly learnt that there are certain things that you should never, ever do on public transport.
Never eat stinky food
Everyone eats on public transport and there’s nothing wrong with that, I usually eat my breakfast on the train. But there are particular meals which should never be eaten while in a confined space with other people, the majority of whom are probably starving. So if you want to be a considerate public transport user don’t eat pizza, curry, burgers, fish and as a general rule, try and stay away from cooked food.
Never fall asleep without setting an alarm on your phone
Falling asleep on public transport is never a good idea, especially if you are very tired, drunk, hung-over and or in fancy dress. It leaves you susceptible to pickpockets. I know people who have fallen asleep with their brand new smart phone in their hand and woken up phoneless. It can also result in waking up at the end of the line, wherever that may be. On a trip from London to Lincoln I once fell asleep and if my phone had not gone off as we were pulling into my stop I probably would have woken up at the end of the line – which in this case was in Glasgow.
If you are going to fall asleep, figure out what time you will need to get off and set your alarm for 5 minutes beforehand, problem solved!
Never sit when someone less able has to stand
This one is the most well-known of all of the rules and one of the most important. If you are young and able-bodied and someone else is elderly/disabled/pregnant or looks like they are in distress or are struggling, please give up your seat. If you don’t you’ll probably be subject to vicious glares from the rest of the carriage and it will be very uncomfortable, even if you are sitting down.
Don’t talk ridiculously loud into your phone
I have never understood why people do this. When in a public place people believe that their phone is suddenly not good enough and that they need to talk slowly, loudly and clearly into it as if they were using a two-way radio from World War II. Unless it is actually loud on the train or bus then talk normally; we don’t want to hear your conversation.
Never put your feet/bag on the seat if it is busy
Again, another obvious one yet people still ignore it. Putting your bag on a seat when it’s quiet is fine and although feet are not allowed up there, everyone does it. But when it is busy, try and take up as little space as possible. If someone is standing because there are no seats and they see someone with their bag on a seat, more often than not they are too nervous or polite to ask that person to move their bag, when in fact that person deserves a telling off.
Never stand still while walking through a crowded tube station, it’s not safe
This one mainly applies for London only as I can’t think of any train station outside of the capital which gets as packed as a busy tube station. During rush hour the walkways between platforms in London tube stations get busy, and I mean REALLY busy. People are usually in a hurry and many people are running late so it’s in everyone’s best interest for the crowd to move as fast as reasonably possible. If you are lost, stand to the side. If you are waiting for someone, get out of the way. If you need to stand still or slow down for any reason, get out of the way of the mass of people coming towards you. It’s not safe to stand in front of a stampede of Londoners; they probably will barge into you and possibly will knock you flying.
Don’t use a night bus when sober unless you really, really have to
I work in a bar in Central London so I have to take a night bus on a very regular basis, and normally while being stone cold sober. I have seen all sorts on my night bus travels – fights, vomiting, very public displays of affection (if you know what I mean) and people generally being drunk and obnoxious. Avoid this method of transport at all costs. If you do have to use it, go upstairs, the bottom deck is reserved for those too drunk to get up the stairs.
So there are my seven deadly sins, I would love to hear any suggestions or stories that you may have about public transport.