Thursday, 19 November 2009

Rules for the use of public transport

This has been a big week. Momentous. Massive. Mega.

There are new buses on the route of the number 38.

Previously the route ran on the controversial bendy bus which has apparently now toppled one cyclist too many, and been replaced with good old fashioned double deckers. Thank you Mad Boris.

All week, the bus stand at Victoria has therefore been swarming with those nice men from British Transport Police ... telling people how to get on the bus. I'll say that again. They've been telling people HOW TO GET ON THE BUS.

This morning I took the chance to ask one of the rozzers if they really felt they were needed in this role, and before he had the chance to answer a man interrupted and asked (whilst standing in the shadow of an approaching two storey bus) where he could find a number 38. Said copper turned to me, one eye brow cocked, and said, "you'd be surprised, love".

I have therefore found myself thinking a lot today about the vexatious things that people do on the train or bus that need addressing. I give you Tooting Tooting's guide to the use of public transport:

1) Don't be a nobber. If you're sitting down and you see someone old, pregnant, on crutches, carrying a child, looking a bit queasy, or in any other way balance-challenged, offer them your seat.

2) That is, unless the person in question is wearing a "baby on board" badge. They're just showing off.

3) If you are in any way balance-challenged, and you want to sit down, then ask. The sitters probably just haven't looked up from their copy of The Lost Symbol long enough to notice you. Don't just stand there huffing and muttering. That will only make you look a bit mental.

4) If you're on the phone, and you use a phrase like, "don't tell anyone, but ...", or "between you and me ...", or "can you keep a secret?" don't be surprised if the nearest thirty people to you put their books down and listen in.

5) You know those ENORMOUS three wheeled buggies? The ones that have a footprint about the size of the Isle of Wight? If you have one of those and have any choice at all, please don't travel in the rush hour. As well as taking up the space of about eight people, your child, surrounded on all sides by comparatively tall people, will be terrified, and will start to squark. Other passengers will then start to squark too. At you. It'll be a whole squarking extravaganza.

6) If you absolutely must eat stinky food on public transport, then so be it. It's not pleasant, but most of us have been caught on the 18:52 with a Cornish pasty at one time or another. But just eat it. Don't pretend it's not you and nibble it out of the bag secreted up your sleeve when you think no-one's looking. You'll just make it take longer and really, the sooner you're done, the sooner the whiff will pass.

7) No farties, please.

8) Please don't walk along the tunnel, walk down the steps, get to the entrance to the platform, then stop. Please. If you do that, fifty stampeding commuters will, as one, walk over you.

9) Broadsheets opened flat have the footprint of four three-wheeler buggies, side by side. They need to be folded in half. Or get a tabloid. (Also, I prefer to read something a bit trashier over your shoulder. Thanks).

10) If you're listening to your iPod, I should either be able to not hear it at all, or be able to identify the song, sing along, and maybe dance around a bit. Anything in between is plain irksome.

11) Men. Knees together. There just isn't room.

12) When you need to get off, wait your turn. Don't shove. And shoving whilst saying "excuse me" is still shoving. Pack it in.

I think that's all. But if I think of anything else, I'll get back to you. Thank you for listening.


  1. The worst, the WORST thing of all though is people who walk to the bus stop reading a paperback. That gets my goat the mostest.

  2. I love this.

    Pack it in is such a quintessentially English phrase. I am going to bring it back, singlehandedly. Well, doublehandedly since you already started it but you get the gist.

    BTW you forgot to mention BO. Sweaty armpits while reaching up to hold a hand holdy thingy = bad.

  3. MLS - I don't know what you mean. I'd NEVER do that, just in case I walked into a lamp post. *ahem*

    BL - You're right, of course. And I'm always staggered by the number of people who apparently don't brush their teeth before getting on the train in the morning, whilst saying thing like "hhhhhhexcuse me pleahhhhse". Eugh!

  4. Stand to the side of the escalator when you are on it if you cannot propel yourself forward when moving at a gentle angle. If you are unsure which side, observe which one the large number of people apparently not intent on walking whilst on the device are using. This is the side for you. When leaving the escalator, move about 12 feet away from it, to the side of a wall or divide, before stopping to figure out where you want to go - and this is particularly useful if you were on the left, "capable of walking and without luggage" side of the escalator on the way up/down.

    When getting on a double decker bus, if there is no seating upstairs and you are steady on your feet, try to locate a seat upstairs. Do not assume that people standing around the bus doors (and moaning about the cramped conditions) have tried this ahead of you. They might just be stupid and lazy, and placing yourself amongst them may lead people to think you are stupid and lazy. This is especially true of the number 17 bus route when along the centre and west of Reading, which will almost certainly involve at least dozen people stood around the doors rather than further back along the bus, an average of six people sat upstairs, and a large number of people who are stupid and lazy (because it is Reading West, and that’s just how things are).

    Doorways for entering and exiting through, not holding a debate with people in person or over that phone that has been preventing you from walking in a straight line and at any sort of pace whilst you use it.

    If any of these sound familiar and you are of adult age, it may be simpler not to appear in public in anyway.


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