The P-I has a primer for bus riders, in response to higher gas prices, including tips to making your bus commute more enjoyable, and figuring out whether transit will be cheaper than driving (it nearly always is cheaper than driving alone). They do run a story about a woman puking on the bus, for what reason, I don’t know. In all my years riding public transit, I’ve never seen anyone puking.

The article is really basic. How to buy tickets (the P-I notes you cannot use credit cards), how to signal your stop (pull the cord) and how to find your route. Rides are free downtown (anyone who has been downtown must know that by now, right?).

Ok, if I had to give advice to new transit riders, I would say the following:

  • Have your cash ready when you board, or get off. Better yet, buy a pass or tickets before riding. You’ll be happier, and your fellow riders will appreciate (or at least hate you less).
  • Don’t be shy to ask questions, just don’t hold up the bus doing so. Does the bus go to Pioneer Square/Pike Place Market? If you’re in the ride free zone, pretty much yes.
  • Don’t talk to the crazies unless you are prepared to talk until you get off. This is an easy mistake that I see a lot of noobies make. You can’t tell who is crazy easily, so you may not want to talk to anyone until you’ve riden a dozen times or so.
  • Please be respectful of others when using your phone.

What am I missing? What advice would you give transit noobs?

19 Replies to “Advice for New Transit Riders”

  1. Metro’s trip planner is accurate but is a little cumbersome. I find that if you use a little common sense google transit often works as well and is much faster.

  2. Hmm, what advice do they have for signaling your stop when the windows are obscured by bus-wrap advertising (so you can’t read the street signs to tell where you are), and the bus driver isn’t announcing stops? :)

  3. Another tip: Say hi and bye to the bus driver, they’re (mostly) friendly. This must be a West Coast thing — it doesn’t happen too much in NYC! It also seems to happen more on Sound Transit (due to higher socioeconomic status of riders, perhaps) than on Metro.

  4. If the bus is full-ish, keep walking to the back of the bus; don’t crowd the front.
    Don’t take up the seat with your bag, unless the bus is basically empty.
    Enjoy the fact that you don’t have to deal with road rage, bad drivers, or even having to pay attention to what is going on! :)

  5. Sit like ladies and gentlemen, back straight, knees together. Give your seat to the elderly and short people- my under 5 foot friend, for instance, doesn’t have anything secure to hold onto when she has to stand on a bus.

  6. start moving to the doors (and have your fare ready, if you’re heading out of downtown), if possible, as the bus approaches your stop.

    remember that there are many other people that are also trying to get home / to work / to someplace else. their journey does not also end when you get off the bus. get on and off quickly so everyone can get to their destination on time.

  7. Good to see the media offering some good suggestions as opposed to giving people anxiety over rising gas and food prices.
    I also wondered why they felt compelled to bring up the puking incident twice. Some guy in the comments section (I’m not sure why I opened it, sometimes my curiosity bests me) talked about someone peeing on them. When does this happen? I’ve been riding the bus since I was in junior high and have never seen such things. At least they mentioned the lady that had been riding the bus for 20 years and has never seen anyone puke.

  8. Why is that I can get a bus from the beach in Westport, Washington to downtown Olympia with one transfer, but I can’t get a bus from Seattle to Olympia at all? I am beginning to hate my vanpool.

  9. You CAN get a bus from Seattle to Olympia, with a transfer in Lakewood. I haven’t been to the area in a few years but I know it’s a Sound Transit bus to either a Pierce or Intercity Transit bus.

  10. Buy bus tickets ( New and occasional riders are very frustrated by the need to carry exact change. A book of tickets in your case, purse or bag makes life easier and speeds the transaction.

  11. fwiw, i think the whole argument about weirdo transit riders and other horror stories is kind of moot.

    would you want to drive a car if i said, “man, i was driving the other day and this guy tried to KILL me by running my car off the road, another person gave me the finger, and i spilled my coffee twice because some a**holes on their cell phones weren’t looking and i had to jam my brakes on to avoid hitting them and incurring thousands of dollars of damage to my own personal possession”

    neither is pleasant, but i’d rather have to deal with the occasional (or not so occasional) weirdo than have to put up with the bullsh*t of driving that i dealt with for years on the roads here. seriously, people are blind to the fact that pretty much everyone has or knows someone with many, many driver horror stories – but driving is still considered “glamorous” while taking the transit (safer, cheaper, and sometimes even faster) is considered “dirty”.

  12. Don’t they actually feel a bit dirty, though? Compare Metro’s buses with Sound Transit’s–ST’s are much nicer. I’m not sure if it’s the comfy seats, the colour scheme, the overhead bins, or maybe they actually do clean them more often. (Those new plastic seat covers feel cheap though.) They’re also less likely to have homeless people, and never smell. (I’ve witnessed at least one person pee on the bus.)

  13. “Bus Wraps aren’t awesome, but they go a long way toward paying for service.”

    As would more interior advertising. Really, we don’t need the overhead bins in these buses, 1 person in a 1000 ever uses them, and we can live without the spotlights, and in their place Metro and Sound Transit could sell more advertising space to business, not just non-profits. Yes, they are an eyesore, but you don’t have to read them, and they help defray the costs of running the service.

    It just seems like such an ongoing waste of potential income for the agencies. I just don’t get it.

  14. When I first moved to Seattle, 11 years ago, I decided to take the bus. Complete noobie. Had no idea where I was, where I was going, or how to get there. A developmentally disabled person started talking to me and I didn’t know how/was too polite to move away or stop the conversation, and he told me about the streets of Seattle falling into the naming pattern of “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure”. I have never, ever forgotten his words, and they have helped me to know approximately where I was at in this city ever since. For a long time I had a very difficult time coming up with even one street name beginning with J, C, M, S, U, or P (though I usually got the U’s and P’s), but after a recent discussion with a friend about this exact subject, I realized I’d come to know all the street names!

    Don’t discount discussions with the crazies or the disabled. You can learn a lot.

    Also, I’ve never seen anyone puke on the bus, but in my very limited ridership days I have seen someone have a full-blown seizure, and I’ve also been face to groin with an unzipped pair of pants on a male transient wearing no undergarments.

  15. i guess the weirdo stories from the bus are a lot more intimate given the closer physical proximity than ones you get when you’re driving.

    i’ve taken the bus in seattle for 7 years. i’ve taken the bus a LOT and more often than not outside of commuting hours. after 8pm or at midday are choice times for unforgettable metro moments. i, too, have seen urination, vomiting, passengers shattering the window, pot/crack/cigarettes being smoked on the bus while in motion, i’ve seen not-so-surreptitious sexual activity, more drug deals than i can count, fights, screaming arguments (including those with a lone participant), bus-involved car accidents (including at 50MPH on 520), cops dragging people off of the bus, threats of physical harm made countless times to me and/or my partner, guns, knives, golf clubs, abandoned babies, you name it.

    but, these things also happen (though we’re much less aware of it) on the roads most of us drive every day. and as someone else said, you also see these things walking through the city – for better or worse, the bus is in many ways just an extension of the rest of the city.

    all this being said, growing up in boston and taking transit very regularly there (both bus and subway), there was a lot less tolerance for the type of behavior that goes on regularly on metro. it’s really hard to quantify but i just can’t remember seeing all that many weirdos on the buses in boston, and while you do every now and then see a weirdo or two on the subway, they usually are a lot harder to spot and a lot less brazen than they are here.

    a nice thing about subways/rail transit is they are higher capacity so the weirdo-to-regular-people ratio is a lot more tolerable!

  16. “What advice would you give transit noobs?”

    How about: don’t overdo the perfume! We’re in a confined space and too much perfume can be terrible.

  17. Don’t sit in the back of the bus no matter what. I sat there once on a crowded afternoon and some thug tried to steal my iPod. Nobody did anything. I sit in the front now now.

    One thing I noticed in Chicago buses that they don’t do here, is that the Chicago buses actually have a clear automated voice that announce the bus stops rather than the drivers (if at all). They also have electronic signs inside that say the upcoming stop. It was really cool and helpful, and KCM should look into this.

    I also think KCM has the worst color scheme. Green and yellow? Puke. Something brighter, more appealing, cleaner, and nicer, like whites or blues.

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