Bus Seating Etiquette Question

I take the bus a lot. It’s cheap, it gives me reading time on the way to work, and it’s good for the environment.

I live in a medium-sized college town, which means for the purposes of this question that people tend to get on the bus when it’s inbound towards city center and get off the bus on the outbound routes, and very few people don’t have a city center stop on at least one end of their trip. These buses are organized typically, with two seats on either side of the aisle.

So my question is this–the bus is normally pretty full when I board it to go home at the central stop. Typically I end up sitting next to a stranger. At some point during the ride outbound, seats will open up as people leave the bus but are not replaced. During this time, I’ll see some people get up and move from sharing a seat next to a stranger to an empty pair of seats. My question is, is there any etiquette associated with this? Should one or should one not, as the bus empties, spread out so as to not be sitting in the seat next to a stranger?

It’s generally considered polite to do so in most places I’ve been.

Look at it this way: You know that uncomfortable feeling that you get when there are completely empty seats on the bus/train yet someone sits next to you anyway? That’s why you should move, so you’re not crowding someone without a good reason. Also, bus seats aren’t that roomy anyway. Move and give yourselves more space.

I haven’t observed people moving all that often on the buses or metro that I take every day, so I think around here, it’s not expected. If you get on the bus and there are empty pairs of seats/singles and you choose to sit next to a stranger, that can be weird, but if the bus was full and you just took a random seat, then it’s fine to just stay where you are until you get to your stop.

What is rude is to ignore the open seats and stand in front of the door, despite the fact that you aren’t getting off at the very next stop. Those people are in the way and just plain rude! Also, in Montreal, the line up at the bus station really is a line up. First-come, first served, though it is polite to give up your seat to the elderly, the injured, the pregnant, and anyone else who looks like they need it more than you do!

Only frotteurs don’t move to an open seat when one opens up.

I think this is more a matter of opinion than anything else. Moving to IMHO from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

I ride the bus often, and I find myself relieved when a person moves from next to me to another available seat. It just gives me more room and I don’t have to worry about disturbing them. So, if you want the perspective from the other side of the aisle, there you have it.

At least that’s how I look at it.

Next time try asking the person you’re sitting next to. I’m curious what they would say. Or maybe they’d just punch you for trying to speak to them. In that case, sit next to someone small and weak looking

In Chicago, the average person is 1.5 times the size of the average bus seat, so we tend to try to keep sharing to a minimum. Most have found the solution to be to jam up in the aisle, as close to the front as possible. If I can shove my way past those fat-asses, I usually have tons of room in the back.

Heh. I figured that was probably the right answer–I usually move, but upon thinking about it I didn’t want to give the impression to anyone that I was moving because they were annoying me, so I figured I’d put the question out.

I’m definitely a “sit as far back as possible” kind of guy, I’m not THAT clueless. The nice thing about being a bigger 30ish guy in a college town is that I can usually shove the clump of “too dumb to move back” folks back further just by glaring disapprovingly with the “you damn kids” look.

I rode the bus for decades. I say just sit where you want when you want. Having said that, I always move to an empty seat to not “box” in another passenger if possible. For sure, I do this if the bus is pretty empty. It makes both parties more comfortable.

I’ll have to agree with the chorus. When an empty seat opens up, it’s better to move. I once had a guy squish me in for the entire ride, despite almost the entire bus becoming empty. It was a bit irritating.

I think that some people who don’t move are afraid of looking like they are seizing the first opportunity to get away from you.

But why couldn’t you get up and move, in this case, then? I’m picturing this in my head as like a staring contest! :slight_smile:

I have to agree with this. Also because you are actually taking the trouble to stop reading, gather your things and go to the other spot…all that just not to sit next to someone.

In my experience (in the Netherlands) most people will stay in their seat, once they are seated.

On the busses in my city, most of the seats are pairs of window seats and aisle seats. If you’re in a window seat and someone’s in the aisle seat next to you, you’re stuck until you ask them to move.

Color me confused, I’ve only seen people change seats in order to let other people sit together, or to go sit with their friend from whom they’d previously been separated, or if they (the mover, not his previous neighbor) have a ton of stuff. I guess the people with whom I hang out on buses and subways have smaller personal spaces than most people in this thread.

No way! If I’m sitting next to you, I’m sitting next to you till I get off.

(Unless you’re kind of creepy, then I might move.)

Chances are I’m day dreaming and have barely registered the bus emptying.

And this coming from somebody named Elbows. Great.

Huh, I’ve always felt it would be kind of rude to move. Like sitting next to this person is so terrible I’m getting the hell away as soon as I spot an opening.

It’s a judgement call. Generally if I’m getting off at the next stop or moving would simply put me next to someone else, I just stay put. If there is plenty of room, I move.

Really not that difficult a question since most people would probably not be offended.

Here is a more difficult etiquette question:

I take the bus every morning from Hoboken to the PABT. There are usually plenty of seats when I board, but it is generally filled to standing capacity by the time it reaches the Lincoln Tunnel. I’m a pretty decent sized guy. Not ginormous or anything, but two of me sitting side by side in a bus seat is pretty squished, especially if I’m wearing a suit and jacket over it. I would rather avoid the situation where I sit down and some even more massive guy sits next to me. So is it ok for me to pick a seat next to a woman or smallish man knowing that the bus will probably be full in another few stops, even though there are plenty of open seats?