Proper bus etiquette is always necessary

By Sophia Al Rasheed / Columnist

On the way back home from hot yoga, I found myself in about as much of a sitcom bus scene as realistically possible. I was holding a big yoga mat and was so drenched in sweat that, even among the packed crowd, people were giving me my own space. Usually I don’t make it an issue to find a seat on the bus — most of my commutes to and from Oakland are relatively short. But after spending an hour and a half in a standing tree pose in 100-degree heat, I kept my eyes open for a seat.

Eventually I found a seat next to a full-time clown, and while most of the seat was taken up by his juggling materials, the available edge of the seat was just enough at the time. From the immediate silence of the nearby Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. students who were speaking about a mislabeled email inviting people to happy hour, I could tell that my half-edged, completely drenched presence killed a bit of their buzz.

There was an awkward silence for a second, but eventually we all fell back into place. The CMU students talking about what to label their next happy hour email, the clown talking about his last gig and me, heavily concentrating on calculating how many calories I was allotted for Sushi Boat when I got off the bus.

I love this about Port Authority buses — seeing such a variety of people all from different backgrounds. The reason this situation worked out well, however, is because everyone involved followed what I call “bus etiquette,” a vital component to the smooth functioning of buses. It exists in crowded, peak-time buses as well those running at slower route times — and far too many students seem to fall short of this standard.

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

As Pitt students, we have the wonderful privilege of riding the bus free of charge, allowing us to venture around the city with relative ease. But with this power comes a responsibility of representing ourselves. How a student acts on the bus says a lot about them.

I’ve outlined some rules for those that are new to bus etiquette, or simply need a reminder, because you’ll likely find yourself in several crowded situations including people with varying agendas.

1. Do not speak loudly while on the bus — ever. I know you may be very excited about your plans for the day, but in crowded situations, you are the only one that is this excited about it. The people you are riding with are on their work commutes, going about their day for their actual lives. Pitt students, for the most part, are partaking in their college bubble of a life — in order to maintain a sense of harmony, I advise you to silence yourself a bit.

2. Give up your seat to elders on the bus. No matter how tired anyone is, your young legs are more equipped to stand up for a few minutes than those older than you. This is simply common courtesy turned into bus-rule form.

3. Please, for the most part, know where you are going, especially during peak hours. Since the majority of people reading this have a smartphone handy, there is little reason for you to have questions about what stop to get off and what bus to take. Bus drivers, of course, are prepared to answer your questions, but in order to keep moving on a smooth schedule, please limit these questions.

4. Act as if a parent is around. I’ve noticed that, especially with newcomers to college life, students like to make it known that they’re on their own. However, the bus is not a place for this. You have the rest of your free time to let everyone know that you don’t have to ask permission to go anywhere or answer to adults.

5. Say thank you after leaving the bus. This is obviously not a must, but if it weren’t for this bus driver, you wouldn’t have reached your destination.

Some of these points may seem like a no-brainer, but they deserve to be revisited.

Write Sophia at [email protected]