Public transportation is a wonderful thing to have. It connects opposite corners of a city. It connects urban areas to rural areas (and all of the suburbs in between). It cuts down on congestion and drunk driving and the environmental impact of privately owned vehicles. So what’s the catch? The catch, if you choose to view it that way, is the need to be in close proximity to strangers to get where you are going. But there is plenty of simple, painless passenger etiquette that when followed, brightens everyone's ride.
It’s been a while since the launch of SEPTA’s Dude It’s Rude campaign. Over four years, to be exact. Since it’s always the right time to talk about common courtesy, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind our community of how they can be considerate to their fellow riders. Here are a few of the ways to be kind and courteous when you're sharing your ride:
This should be a no-brainer. It's common sense. In order to make room on the car for new passengers, we need to let the old ones off first. It only takes a second, and it prevents a traffic jam if we let those exit before we enter.
Some vehicles have specific seats for disabled riders and seniors. If you take one of these seats, please give it up if a passenger boards that requires priority seating (someone with child would very much appreciate sitting down on a moving vehicle). Also important to note: not all conditions requiring special care (or a seat) are visibly obvious, so please do not feel the need to police these seats yourself if you see someone occupying them that doesn't have what you might consider an obvious disability. Keep in mind that we never know what someone else is going through...
...But also, feel free to be courteous. If you are an able bodied individual [in a seat] and a passenger boards that looks like they might really appreciate not standing on the ride, maybe offer them your seat. We know of course you don't have to, but it's nice, and very appreciated by those that may have more trouble staying steady on their feet.
Still on the topic of seats. You have one human body, you get one seat! Your backpack or purse or groceries has no human body, therefore, does not get a seat. Please use your lap. Or the floor. Allowing all seats to be occupied by humans also helps the aisle and doorway congestion.
Speaking of aisle and doorway congestion: don't block the doors. Please. It affects rule number one: let passengers off before you board. Those passengers need to be able to get to the door and pass through them. If a person is blocking the door, they can't do that. Someone enters before someone can exit. There's more congestion in our aisle than their needs to be. And in some scenarios, it can prevent someone from exiting the vehicle at their correct stop. Which we promise, is incredibly frustrating. So please move down the aisle. Utilize the poles and hand rails on seats.
Last but not least, please keep in mind those around you. You might really want to eat those chicken wings, but the smell might be offensive to the person next to you. The same goes for painting your nails (smell aside, those fumes are too much in the enclosed space of a vehicle and make some lightheaded), and bodily odors. And please, we wish we did not have to say this, but please, do not ever clip your nails on public transportation. Doesn't matter if you ran out of time. Doesn't matter if you really wanted to do that before your date. Just don't. Really. For everyone. Don't.
While we hope some of these are no-brainers, we also hope you keep your fellow humans in mind. After all, all of our actions have consequences, and in the limited space of public transportation, the consequences of our actions affect everyone around us. Public transportation is such a privilege, and we're so lucky to have so much of it in the Philadelphia region. By doing our individual part, by being kind and courteous to those around us, we make everyone's ride, and day, better.
Are there other courtesies you'd like to see more of on public transportation? If so, leave us a note in the comments below!