Be Considerate on Public Transport

If you haven’t taken public transportation in a while, remembering how to behave might be a little tough. Whether you’re taking a bus, train, tram, or metro, being considerate on public transportation can make your ride (and everyone else’s) a whole lot smoother. Brush up on the etiquette surrounding public transport before you head out for a safe, enjoyable trip.


Have your ticket or money in your hand.

  1. Be prepared to board as soon as the bus or train gets to you. If you have a fare card, keep it in your hand so you can tap it or swipe it as you board. If you’re paying with cash, get your exact change ready to purchase a ticket before boarding.[1]
    • The same goes if you’re using an electronic ticket: have it pulled up with the barcode ready on your phone.

Let passengers exit before boarding.

  1. That way, you won’t clog up the bus or the train. Before you head on, let anyone getting off step out first. Once they’re clear, you can go ahead and board.[2]
    • If you’re with a lot of other people waiting to board, consider forming an orderly line. That way, no one has to push or shove to get on.

Wear a mask if you’re required to.

  1. Masks are required during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re riding public transit, be sure you have a mask on before you board. If you don’t have one, you might not be allowed onto the vehicle.[3]
    • You might also want to bring along some hand sanitizer to use after you touch door handles or benches on the bus or train.

Sit down if there are seats available.

  1. Standing up can block the aisles and open seats. If there are any available seats, feel free to sit down and take a load off. If there aren’t, keep standing up but grab a hand rail so you don’t fall over.[4]
    • If there aren’t many people on the bus or train, look for seats that don’t have anyone else sitting nearby. If the bus or train is a little crowded, it’s fine to sit down next to a stranger.

Don’t block the aisles or the doors.

  1. This goes for you and any items you have with you. Try not to stand in front of the doors, and move strollers and bikes out of the aisles if you can. Fold up your walkers or carts and place them under the seat until your ride is over.[5]
    • Some buses and trains have special bike hooks that you can hang your bike on for the duration of your ride.
    • If you’re standing near a pole, try not to lean on it. If you block it off, other passengers won’t be able to grab it to keep from falling over.

Put your bag or backpack in your lap or under your seat.

  1. Your purse or bag doesn’t need a seat of its own. Even if the vehicle isn’t super crowded, it’s polite to keep all the seats open for passengers who want them. If your bag or backpack is too big to hold on your lap, shove it underneath your seat.[6]
    • If you couldn’t grab a seat and you’re standing up, make sure your bag or backpack isn’t in the way of the aisle. You can hold it in front of you or keep it down near your feet if you need to.

Keep your pet in a carrier.

  1. Pets are allowed on most trains or busses in carriers. If you’re bringing a pet on board, make sure they’re sitting quietly in a crate or a carrier that you can hold on your lap. If they make a mess on board, be prepared to clean it up before you leave.[7]
    • If your pet is a service animal, they don’t have to be in a carrier. Make sure you have identification for them just in case you’re questioned by the driver.

Give up your seat to those who need it more.

  1. Elderly, disabled, and pregnant passengers might need to sit down. If someone boards and they can’t find a seat, consider giving up your own for them. It’s the nice thing to do![8]
    • Some buses and trains have priority seating near the front or the back. You can sit in these seats if you’d like to, but you have to give them up if an elderly, disabled, or pregnant person gets on the bus.

Don’t push or shove anyone out of the way.

  1. Instead, just say “excuse me.” If the bus or train is pretty full, you might get jostled back and forth a bit. However, pushing and shoving won’t help anything, and it probably won’t make your neighboring passengers very happy, either.[9]

Keep your voice down.

  1. You’re in a small area, and loud noises travel pretty far. Try not to yell over other people in the vehicle, and don’t take phone calls if you can avoid it. If you have to talk on the phone, keep your voice down and make the call as short as possible.[10]

Wear headphones if you want to listen to music.

  1. Loud music can disturb other passengers. If you’d like to chill out while you ride, bring headphones or earbuds and keep the volume down low. Don’t use speakers on public transportation, since those can be disruptive.[11]
    • The same rules apply if you’re going to watch a video on your phone or tablet, too. Headphones or earbuds are a must!

Don’t talk to the driver while the vehicle is in motion.

  1. It’s dangerous to distract the driver. If you need to alert them about something, press the emergency button on the inside of the bus or the train. Otherwise, don’t bother them while they’re doing their job.[12]
    • Feel free to say thank you as you get off the bus, though! Bus drivers really appreciate that small act of kindness.

Don’t eat while riding.

  1. Harsh smells can be a little much for a small bus or train. If you’re taking food onto the public transport, keep it sealed in an airtight container until you get off. Most public transit doesn’t allow eating or drinking on their vehicles, so it’s better safe than sorry.[13]
    • It’s totally fine to take a sip of water while you’re on a long train or bus ride.
    • If you have any wrappers, save them in your pocket until you get to a trash can. Don’t litter on the bus or the train.
    • Don’t smoke on the bus or train, either. Most public transportation agencies have banned this as well.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

  1. Try not to spread your germs to everyone else around you. If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow (not your hand). Bring a tissue with you just in case your nose starts to run, and try not to touch other passengers if you’re sick.[14]
    • Sneezing or coughing into your hand can still spread germs. When you sneeze or cough into your hand and then touch a door handle or seat, it’s the same as if you just sneezed everywhere.


  • Keep your feet off the seats to avoid dirtying them for other passengers.

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