Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bus Notes

I've been riding a commuter bus to work for about a year and a half now. I enjoy the chance to read or nap while someone else deals with traffic, but it is a fairly long trip and not always the most pleasant way to travel. I've learned a few things about bus etiquette that I've decided to share... in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

The first time you ride the bus, pay attention to the other riders. There may be routines for boarding or exiting. My bus runs from a single park and ride lot to multiple stops downtown, then back to the lot. When we return to lot in the afternoon, riders exit one row at a time starting with the front rows. Everyone politely waits their turn and there is no pushing or crowding. Those who rush to exit before their turn, identify themselves as either a "newbie" or just terribly rude.

Personal space is limited when you share a bus seat with another rider, and feeling like a sardine is no fun for anyone. Briefcases, backpacks and packages take up extra space, and can be safely stowed in overhead storage. A note for tall people: using your elbows and knees as assault weapons is considered bad form.

Climate control seems to be a puzzle that is yet to be solved by the bus drivers of the world. I have found the bus to be chilly most mornings and comfortable to warm in the afternoons. A broken A/C in our Houston summers can make the ride home almost unbearable. My solution is to carry a sweater in my bag for the mornings and wear layers that can be peeled off in the afternoon, and hope for a working A/C.

A bus full of people can be a noisy place. Cell phone calls, conversations, coughing, sneezing and snoring can make it difficult to read or nap. Ear plugs or headphones with soft music can help block out the noise. Vitamins can help protect you from those coughing and sneezing people with colds.

Smells are not as easily blocked as sound. Too much aftershave or cologne can cause severe discomfort for a person with allergies. We can hope that our fellow riders will refrain from overdoing,  and arm ourselves with menthol cough drops and peppermint gum for the times when changing seats isn't an option.

Riding a bus isn't for everyone. Sometimes I think it isn't for me, but then I consider the alternative - driving in Houston traffic - and I realize this is my best option. For now.