June 28th 2013 | Comments

Correct public transport etiquette

How to ride public transport correctly 

It happens to all of us at some time in our lives. You’ve sacked another chauffeur due to his damned impertinence, and not one of the local taxi drivers will offer you their services because of that unfortunate misunderstanding with the horsewhip, and you are stranded outside your club with no way of getting home.

You are, good sir, at the mercy of public transport.

Do not panic.

First, ignore all those club smoking room rumours: Buses and trains are no longer hotbeds of communism, tuberculosis and smallpox, so there is little chance of you coming down with an infectious disease.

The only real danger comes from the gentleman not knowing how to behave correctly in the circumstances.

You may be shocked by two of the key concepts of public transport: It does not pick you up from outside the front door of your club; neither does it drop you off outside the front door of 11 Downing Street, bidding you a hearty “Goodnight, my Lord” with a salute that would grace any regiment of guards.

Instead, one should make his way to a “bus stop”, a gaudy metal and plastic shelter by the side of the road, where people wait for the omnibus to appear. Be sure to stand at the right stop!

how to behave on a bus

Etiquette dictates a first-come, first-served concept which people call “queuing”. You must join the “queue” at the back an await your turn. Even women, children and people of lower classes are allowed to stand in front of you, a concept that veers dangerously close to socialism.

When the bus arrives, wait your turn, board the bus, and state your destination to the driver. He will ask for something called “exact change please”, and “Send an invoice to my secretary at the House of Commons, kind sir” is not an acceptable answer.

Once this financial unpleasantness is out of the way, find a seat.

The prime position is on the top deck, directly above the driver. If you are lucky enough to get this seat, it is your duty to pretend to be driving, and you MUST make the appropriate sound effects.

However, it is more than likely that you may have to share. If the bus is full, the gentleman offers his seat to another person, particularly if they are elderly, or with child. Double points if you give up your seat to an pregnant pensioner.

At all costs, avoid eye contact. The only occasion when it is permitted to speak is to ask another passenger “Is this my stop?” Engaging them in a discussion on fiscal policy and shared austerity is a certain faux pas.

If you are standing, do not invade the personal space of the person next to you, particularly with the groinal areas, as this may provoke a punch in the face.

Once you are at your destination, ring the bell in good time, and exit by the appropriate doors. Do not attempt to tip the driver. He may be flattered, but his tip to you will almost certainly be “Get off my bus, weirdo.”

At this point, you will still be left with a walk to your front door. Accepted custom is to make this trip via a kebab shop or burger bar. This will be covered in future guides “How to avoid starting a fight in a kebab shop” and “What to do if you get arrested“.

But congratulations! You’ve been on a bus! That’s a story to tell your grandchildren.