Bus Etiquette


I have always wondered what the right thing to do is in the following situation:

So, lets say I hop on the bus on the way to work and it is pretty packed so I sit down next to someone. The bus continues it’s journey ( Outbound) and the majority of people ( as in 85%) get off the bus except the person I sat down next to.

What do I do? Do I

A. Move seats - Which means the person next to me might think he/she stinks. I am rude etc. Apart from the outlined risk there is also the possibility that someone might then sit down next to me which makes me look like a bit of a fool.

B. Stay where I am - This is usually what I do, as I don’t want to offend my fellow commuter. But the risk is, what if they really want me gone?

I know I may be worrying to much over nothing, but it is something that has always bothered me. :eek:

Any ideas?

If you are on the outside of a seat, and the other passenger is on the inside, it’s far easier for you to move than for him to ask to get by you and then sit somewhere else. So just move.

If you’re sitting on the seats arranged parallel to the bus, so that nobody has to ask someone to get up before they can leave their seat, then do whatever you want.

Since this is a matter of opinion, it’s better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I move, and it really annoys me when people stay put when there are 10-15 open seats on the bus.

I’ve always wondered that, too. Don’t ride the bus that often, so it doesn’t come up, but I do wonder. On the subway it’s less of an issue because you can just move over a little if space frees up but the bus is definitely set up differently.

I smile and say “It’s nothing personal”, then I move. It usually gets a smile or a laugh.

I’d move. It is very normal for people to want their personal space - the only reason to not accommodate this is if the bus is too full. But naturally people will evenly distribute over the bus rather then sit next to someone they don’t have to. I think this should extend to the bus suddenly emptying out so that you can move away from the person you are sitting next to.

I can’t imagine any normal person getting offended by this.


Sometimes, depending on whether I’m feeling friendly or not, I smile and say “You don’t stink,” which has so far been returned with a (possibly fake?) smile or laugh each time.

You move. It’s weird to be next to a stranger when it’s not forced to be so. And since you don’t want to sit next to him, and he probably doesn’t want to sit next to you, what good is keeping up a pretense that you’re perfectly happy as-is?

I can’t imagine anyone thinking “How DARE you suggest I’m not worthy to sit next to! How rude!”

I move when there is a full empty seat available. So say there’s one particular stop where a bunch of folks get off. I’d use that moment to move into a freshly vacated seat.

I do the same thing, but going for the big laugh I add “that much for a big old fat girl.” So far, everyone must have a really bad sense of humor.

Yeah, but what’s worse is when I’m sitting with one open seat between me and another person, and there are numerous spots on the bus with 2-3 open seats in a row, so that a person could sit down without touching anyone, and someone getting on the bus nevertheless squeezes into the space between me and the other person, ignoring the large open areas of available seating. That’s happened a few times.

One time there were multiple paired forward-facing seats completely unused, and I was sitting in the aisle seat of one (the window seat being unoccupied), and some large person on crutches came onto the bus, rushed toward me, ignored the reserved seating for the disabled, ignored the open pairs of seats, and ignored my attempt to get out of her way, clambering awkwardly across my legs to sit heavily in the window seat beside me, incidentally whacking me with her crutches in the process. I got up and moved to an open seat where both of us could be out of each other’s way.

“What? I said you don’t stink that much for a big old fat girl.”

This has happened to me more times than I can count, and should be punishable by stoning.

I typically don’t switch seats in that situation because I don’t care. Moving wouldn’t make it easier for people to get by; on the buses where I’m at, the isle between seats is really spacious, with plenty of room to walk by even with people sitting on either side.

When it’s happened, I’ve simply said “I’m going to go get comfortable over here” so that I could make sure there’s no misunderstandings.

I think it pretty much goes without saying, though. If you really didn’t like the other person, you’d have found an excuse to get up earlier.

I often would make a smile and comment like tdn - something like - “yay - now we can all get our elbow room back” and move nearby but to my own seat.

Since it’s a commuter bus and we mostly all would see each other every day - no one seemed to get offended. We all tended to smile and chit chat with each other any way.

That’s what I said.

Once in a while on my train ride home, this gorgeous Argentinian woman sits next to me when the train is full, but then she moves as soon as another seat opens up. This is the only situation where I’d prefer my seatmate not to move away.

I guess I won’t admit, then, that I’ve been in this situation many times and always stayed where I was.
Pretend I’m not here.

Sometimes I move, sometimes I don’t. If I’m getting off in a stop or two anyway, I usually don’t want to bother.