Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve been a passenger on buses that passed up other passengers while there was still room in the back of the bus.  Two weeks ago, I got on a bus after the driver was telling other riders it was too full, because I saw open space in the middle of the front half of the bus, and pushed my way back there.  Especially in horrible November and December weather, things like this shouldn’t ever happen.  And the reason they do happen is oblivious or rude standing habits.  To be considerate when you’re standing, all you need to do is follow three simple rules.  Please pass this post along to everyone you know who rides well-used routes, so more people can get on without someone making a scene.

1. Move Back!

Really.  Move back.  Yes, all the way back.  Yes, further back than that.  This is the most important rule.  And it’s that simple.

A typical scene on a morning Route 312 trip. Note the fantastic view I have, because I’m standing in the elevated area at the very back, where more people need to stand.  Also notice the guy in the black parka who refused to move further back even as we passed up passengers at NE 85th.  The passed-up passengers should make and use voodoo dolls of that guy.

There is not a spike that descends from the very back of the bus to impale you if you stand all the way back.  I often see otherwise jam-packed buses with absolutely no one standing to the back of the rear steps.  Please stand back there.  You can still reach the door easily, you have a nice view past other standees in low-floor buses (as in the photo above), there is plenty of headroom unless you’re well over six feet, and you’re considerately making room for others.  Three to four people can comfortably stand behind the rear door, and you can jam six or seven in when it’s extremely crowded.

Other places where people are very reluctant to move back are at the hinge and, bizarrely, at the front door.  Yes, you need to move past the hinge if there is room in the back half of the bus.  And if you are that person who insists on standing at the front door and forcing everyone else to dance around you just to get on, then you deserve all the bumps and bruises you get.  You will still be able to get off the bus just fine if you move further back.

2. Pay Attention.

Frequently, standees will tune out the world around them as soon as they’ve settled into a position, not noticing that people behind them have considerately moved back because more people want to get on.  When the bus stops, look around you. Look both backward, to see if you have more room to move back, and forward, to see if more people are trying to get on.

People sitting in full buses should also pay attention, because they should be ready to give up their seats to seniors or persons with disabilities who may have a hard time standing in a moving bus for the length of the trip.  Getting totally lost in your reading, music, or game is fun, but rude to those around you.

3. Step Out.

If you are standing near the doors and passengers are trying to get off, then get off the bus, and step back on when people finish exiting.  People can exit much faster when the aisle is clear, saving everyone time.  You will have time to get back on.  Drivers will wait until they see no movement at the back door to close it, and they can tell the difference between existing passengers getting back on after having stepped aside and new passengers trying to evade payment.

If all standees followed these three simple rules, we’d have considerably fewer pass-ups, and buses would move faster as well.  Please be considerate to your fellow passengers and stand the right way.  Those waiting in the cold and rain at bus stops thank you sincerely.

126 Replies to “PSA: Standing the Right Way”

  1. Completely agree, thank you for posting! I see this every day and it drives me crazy. I think we need this problem attacked through systematic Metro announcements and marketing. Lately I have heard more of the recorded announcements asking people to move to the back and also to exit the back door. But those need to be all the time, on every bus. And I think more ads inside the bus telling people to move back would help.

    Even if we don’t have cuts in bus service, we have to get the most capacity out of the buses we have. Simply fitting more people on the bus, through changing culture, is a very low-cost way to help. Metro needs to do more on this.

  2. If you have luggage with you please don’t stand between the front wheel wells or next to the back door and act put upon when other riders squeeze past you to get on and off the bus.

    1. There is a raised flat area close to the operator that is perfect for placing a large carry-on object that can be laid flat on most buses. I saw someone use it on a 132 yesterday when there was an equipment bottleneck at the front (but the bus was still below 1.0 load factor).

      1. You mean the storage box above the wheel with the sign that says, “Do not place anything here” on top?

      2. I’m tempted to just carpet bomb these comments with a copy/pasted “this would be less of a problem with an open floor plan”.

        When two skinny people with no luggage or hanging accoutrements can barely pass each other on the bus, blockages are inevitable and egress-guarding behavior is to be expected.

        You want to blame someone? Blame whoever the fuck just ordered an entirely new future bus fleet with the same worst-practice 2×2 insanity.

      3. (…And props to Al D., Kyle S., Gordon W., Mark D., Scott S., and Matt The E. for having pretty much done said carpet-bombing already. Absolutely applies to the luggage situation as well, though. There is literally no good way to ride a busy Metro bus with your suitcase.)

  3. Just reading this makes my blood pressure rise. I’ve never used crowded transit in a city where there are so many selfish and inconsiderate riders as Seattle. It’s beyond infuriating. (SRO busses here in Dayton are rare, at least based on my ridership patterns, which are generally off-peak. But when I have experienced them the rider behavior has Seattle easily beat. People here know how to use the back door, too, which is nice). Unfortunately I expect the readers of this forum are not the problem.

    1. I agree that readers here probably aren’t the problem. Anytime we see extra room in the back, we should just yell to the bus driver: “There’s room for a few more back here!!”

      1. Readers aren’t the problem, but they can be part of the solution. One of the biggest issues I see on crush load busses/trains is the typical Seattle passive aggressive approach of staring a little at the offender and doing nothing.

        Give a loud announcement for everyone to move back. Let everyone know they can stand in the raised section of Link. Be sure to ask that guy with a backpack in the seat next to him if you can sit there, even if there is room for you to stand, so that he won’t do it next time. Be assertive, and help train all the other riders to Stand the Right Way.

    2. Obliviousness can be a bit of problem on metro—Way more than should be happening, somebody is standing in the middle of the aisle near one of the doors when the bus comes to a stop and doesn’t automatically shift to make way for outgoing passengers, particularly at a stop where a lot of them usually get off. Yes, one can say “pardon me” “excuse me” to that person, but one has got to have some antenna with regards to who’s going where while standing in the middle of the aisle when the bus comes to a stop.

    3. Wrong. It happens everywhere. This is not unique to Seattle. In fact, I elect you to ride every major transit system in the country and report back.

      1. It obviously happens everywhere, but not with the same frequency. I’ve been on crowded transit in plenty of major cities that are nowhere near as bad as Seattle about this. (Including little ol’ Dayton, with it’s Pierce transit-sized transit system, where I spend over half the year).

  4. I agree, this bugs me to no end. I will yell at people that “you gotta keep moving back” if i get on at the front and see there’s room and people aren’t moving. Though I think the most rude ones are the ones not even paying attention with earbuds in their ears merrily standing in the middle of the bus oblivious to all around them and spatially unaware that more space has opened up.

    1. I will yell at people that “you gotta keep moving back” if i get on at the front and see there’s room and people aren’t moving.

      Yeah, I’m a very passive, low controntation person, but packed buses is pretty much the one circumstance in my life where I get a little but pushy with complete strangers. The median clueless aisle blocker will move back (although often not as far he could) when confronted directly about his refusal to do so.

      1. I am a petite woman riding the 358–ain’t no way I’m gonna say anything to anybody on that bus. But I appreciate when people do speak up and ask people to make room. Us silent terrified people in the corner salute you!

  5. The number of drivers who are complicit in the theft of services from stranded, tax-paying riders is infuriating.

    Also infuriating is the silent refusal of my fellow passengers to adopt a two-wide standing arrangement. Your backpack didn’t pay a fare; it doesn’t get to take up the other half of the aisle where a passenger could stand.

    Those of us who actually ride the bus (as apparently opposed to the decision makers) each need to channel the voice of a thousand passed-up riders into petitioning Metro for 2+1 seating. And quite frankly Metro needs to educate riders on proper bus etiquette. Too many riders think themselves entitled to a seat or seat-sized personal comfort bubble. Welcome to the city. Now move.

    1. The number of drivers who are complicit in the theft of services from stranded, tax-paying riders is infuriating.

      I’m sympathetic to the bind drivers are in, but ultimately I think they’re part of the culture that has to change as well. I’d be curious to hear from some of the drivers and former drivers who post here.

      1. They’re instructed to avoid conflict and confrontation with passengers above all else. Metro drivers get punched, stabbed, or shot every day on routes all over the county, over the most ridiculous, trivial bullshit. They have to operate under the assumption that any passenger may be violent and/or unstable,and that any request, no matter how reasonable, may be taken as a personal slight.

      2. Metro drivers get punched, stabbed, or shot every day on routes all over the county, over the most ridiculous, trivial bullshit.

        While obviously driver safety is an issue, this is surely hyperbolic.

      3. “Every day” was a bit of hyperbole. It’s actually much closer to every other day that a Metro driver, somewhere in the system, gets assaulted in some form.

        Training drivers in conflict avoidance helps to move these dangerous people past the driver, into the back of the bus with the passengers. So, you know, it’s not an actual solution.

        Driverless vehicles with dedicated transit police patrolling the routes would be vastly superior, but is virtually impossible in a bus situation.

    2. Really, you want two people to stand side-by-side in those narrow aisles? Unless I’m willingly swapping spit with that person I’m not cramming in that tight, sorry.

      1. bigyaz, welcome to the real world, where two people can fit snugly, but not offensively close, in a Metro bus aisle.

        If you’d like to increase your personal comfort bubble, petition Metro for a 2+1 seating layout.

      2. Kyle S.: You must ride on more spacious buses than I do. In my (very real) world people sitting in aisle seats encroach on the aisle space so much that it’s tight for just one person to stand, nevermind two.

        I’ll look forward to the wide-body buses you first-worlders must enjoy!

  6. I agree that it’s frustrating when people don’t move back, but I do think a partial explanation lies in the design of our articulated buses. As the author notes many people seem to get stuck at the hinge; I thought it was rather mysterious until I realized that for a good 6 feet or so in the hinge area there is nowhere to hold on, no straps or poles of any kind, and of course the accordion wall means there isn’t even anywhere to lean. People just in front of the hinge area hesitate to move back when the bus starts to fill up because they worry about getting stuck standing unsafely in that area with nothing to hold on to and the floor and walls moving in several different directions during what is usually a bumpy ride. Meanwhile people just behind the hinge probably see all the room in front of them and figure there is no need to move back until someone is near them. I’m sure I was just on an articulated bus in NYC that had plenty of places to stand and hold on in the hinge section, so I’m not sure why our bus designs handle this so poorly.

    1. There are straps inside the hinge area on RapidRide. We should definitely bring those to all our articulated buses.

    2. Also, since I get motion sickness, whenever I get stuck in the hinge, I feel like I’m going to boot it all over my fellow passengers. I do what I can not to stand there.

    3. The lack of anything to hold on to in the hinge is why I don’t exit from the rear door more often.

    1. +1
      And Put that backpack, gym bag, shopping bag, on top of your feet. I call it the penguin chick manuever.

      1. Oh the extra huge backpack. How many times have I been whacked as a seated passenger by one of those. Worse, I moved over so a woman could sit next to me and she practically threw her fish smelling backpack on me, super gag when you are pregnant.

        People need to move back. If they don’t I usually moosh my way until I can get to the back of the bus.

      2. Better yet, if you’re on a Sound Transit bus, put the backpack in an overhead bin, if it will fit. Just be careful not to accidentally forget it on your way out!

      3. @adsf
        there are a handful of comments here where people raise valid personal justifications for not doing as the post preaches, so let me raise another: If I’m going to be standing and probably moving back as the aisle fills up, I’m not going to put my bag in the overhead bin.

        Likewise, riders with bikes are advised to stay near the front of the bus (and to exit from the front and to tell the driver you’re removing your bike): not hard to imagine filtering to the back to accommodate more riders only to have one’s egress via the back door so delayed that the bus drives away before you can retrieve your bike.

        It’s not a great situation, obviously and I don’t mean to excuse oblivion and passive aggressive space-hogging. Just keep in mind there are theoretical best practices, but your mileage may vary.

  7. Completely agree. However, once a bus is truly crush-loaded and I board in the front and cannot move back further, like on the 74 I boarded yesterday at Convention Place after being passed up twice, I should be able to deboard up front. There’s no way it’s more efficient more me to wade through 40 people to reach the rear exit. For anything but true crush loads, rear deboarding is appropriate.

  8. Since the problem children won’t actually read this post, there is more Metro could do. Besides the PSAs, operators who are about to pass up riders after playing the PSA, then a live announcement, could have a policy of getting out of the bus and strolling to the back to knock on the window and get the attention of the problem child. Knock on the window. Wave to the person. If they don’t respond, tell the whole bus it is not moving until everyone moves back. That means you in the (describe clothing). Police are on the way. You think I’m kidding? We’ll see when the police get here. (A pair of transit police, conveniently stationed at the stop where there has been a need to use full bus capacity, then board and escort the passenger off, to the cheers of everyone on board.)

    During freezing whether, getting everyone on board can be a life-and-death matter. Don’t let anyone get passed up, unless you’ve inspected the bus from the outside, and seen that it is absolutely full. If it is, let the stranded passengers know how far the next bus is behind, so they can take shelter and be back for the next bus. This will be especially important when the Seahawks continue their Super Bowl run in the middle of a blizzard. I will personally call in a commendation for any operator who goes to these lengths. (I have also called in complaints when operators failed to get passengers to move back. It is within the operator’s control to make it happen.)

    For those adults who behave like problem children, please grow up, and be courteous to *all* your fellow riders.

    As an aside, there was a woman at Metro’s open house last night who was wanting information on the C Line’s true capacity, It sounded like she had been passed up a few times, and was under the delusion such things only happened on her route. I encourage those who have been passed up to please keep calling in to complain, but also call in a commendation when the operator takes extra effort to get you on the bus. If you really need a seat (which didn’t apply to this woman), ask the operator to assist in getting you a seat.

    1. re: knock on the window. Can this be something that a back door loader can do?
      Personally, if there is a way for an announcement to cut into music, emails, etc inside people’s electronic devices …. that could go a long way.

      1. Metro is well aware of which routes get crush-loaded, and has a plan to deal with it. But that plan requires more revenue. Getting new riders is not the problem, as the latent demand is pretty much insatiable. The problem is getting money to put more wheels and operators on the road.

  9. I even witnessed this on Link before Monday’s Seahawks game. People were having to shove in as if it were rush hour in Tokyo, but nobody thought to stand in the elevated sections at the front and rear of the trains. I told some people that were crushed up against the glass barriers that they were welcome to come stand up by me where there was lots of room, but they looked at me as if I were insane.

    1. I’ve noticed this on Link too. It really is like people think a chainsaw will descend from the ceiling and decapitate them if they stand in an elevated section.

      1. To be fair though, I have been on trains in Tokyo where people have avoided properly filling in the space away from the doors.

        When things start getting crush loaded, people stop moving toward the edges and just get stuck in the middle.

        People not moving to the back of the bus/link is more of a cultural issue than anything. People in this city have avoided using transit so long that a lot of them just don’t really know how to use it. PSAs on the local media might be nice (but also expensive).

        Maybe they should start teaching how to properly use transit in the local schools like they teach the proper usage of bicycle signals… well at least *I* was taught that in school around here…

    2. Do the trains have PSAs for passengers to please move and fill all available standing space, including the elevated standing space?

      Also, if there is a crushload, would the passengers sitting on the fold-up seats please stand up so that there is room for more passengers to stand. If I am on a train where I know there will be a crushload, I stand next to the fold-up seat to discourage anyone from putting it down.

    3. The elevated sections on Link are a major reason that LRT is a colossal failure of a mode choice. We paid rapid-transit prices for a system that actively consipres against rapid transit usage.

    4. The canned announcement package has one that says, “Please move to the rear of the bus so that other passengers can board.” Some drivers even play it twice at a stop.

      1. I wish there was also a canned announcement reminding those occupy the seats in the very front, often students glued to their electronic devices, that seniors and people with physical disability have priority to these seats. This is done on MAX in Portland, and I have seen it work.

  10. Although I appreciate this attempt at changing human behavior, there are design changes that could help a lot more than changing so many people’s actions. Imagine a bus with all 2+1 seating and both door boarding. And yes, a pole in the accordion section.

    1. Matt, my friend, I’m afraid we’re outvoted by the passengers who feel entitled to a seat.

    2. This. A pole in the accordion section doesn’t even remove seating!

      In addition, a please-open-these-doors-bell near the back door, for those drivers who don’t open the back door, and don’t always see that there is a human being trying to deboard.

      No one should have to shout or run to the front of the bus to get off because they’ve tried to be a good transit user and move all the way back.

      1. Now that the system is entirely PAYE, future buses should have that push-bar-when-overhead-light-goes-on thing that is common elsewhere on rear doors. I assume the driver activates the door when it is safe, the light goes green and anyone wishing to leave can. The driver doesn’t have people yelling at them and passengers can just debark as desired.

        2+1 seating is also a no brainer on all new orders, possibly unless there are bus types that will solely or predominantly used on longer haul routes. Certainly all urban area buses should have that.

      2. Metro purchased hybrid articulated, and Rapid Ride buses with a PASS system on rear doors which prevents the doors from closing on someone as they exit (more accurate than the sensitive edges we have depended on before now). The same system, with a software change would enable exactly what Scott mentioned above: The operator would enable the doors at every stop and anyone wishing to exit would ‘press’ a yellow decal next to a proximity sensor (decal would need to be installed) thereby activating the door – which would close after everyone exited. They green door active light was also installed.

        The rest of the fleet could be modified for this but at a greater expense. I would be surprised if the trolley replacements are being equipped with anything different than our recent procurements which have the PASS system.

        I thought it was a no-brainer when the RFA ended that we would have taken advantage of the technology we had already purchased but it does not appear we have gotten around to it.

      3. I’m not sure it would be a good idea to have a system where passengers regularly open the back door (though they should obviously be able to push it open in case of emergency egress).

        We have no-fare vigilantes in the system, who would probably gladly open the rear door and hold it open to encourage fare evasion. (Of course, as noted elsewhere, some operators are opening the rear door just to get passengers on faster in the CBD.)

        RapidRide would certainly be an exception, if only it didn’t revert to PAYE 7 pm to 6 am.

      4. Brent–this doesn’t happen elsewhere? I’m pretty certain that most places have fare evaders, and I can’t count how many systems I’ve ridden where the passenger can activate the rear door once the driver allows it. We are designing to the lowest common denominator if we allow a tiny minority to determine how useful or efficient our bus service can be for everyone. People would be more inclined to move to the rear if they knew that they could always–or nearly always–deboard from that door.

        Certainly in places like the transit tunnel (at times) or inbound park and rides in the morning, where nearly everyone is boarding buses and very few are disembarking them, the driver would not need to open the rear doors at those times. If there were particular places where fare evasion by the means you mention was endemic, drivers could be alerted to not open the rear doors and fare enforcement patrols could focus their efforts there. Obviously at stops where there is a safety issue at the rear door the driver would not activate them. But for the vast majority of people at the vast majority of stops there is no reason to not always allow disembarkation through any door convenient to the rider. After all–they’ve already paid!

    3. And a cue from the Paris Metro. All seats in subway cars there flip up. As the cars fill up, the polite thing to do (or to keep from being chewed out in Parisian French) is flip your seat and stand.

      1. +1

        Now I’m picturing the short-term cheap equivalent for the funding crisis. On all city-based buses that will be over capacity just remove every seat after the folding wheelchair seats, and put a sign that the few they leave in are for the elderly and disabled only. I’ll bet we could triple the capacity. It wouldn’t be comfortable, but tough times call for desperate measures.

      2. What? What about people who are extremely exhausted? Or in pain from standing at some crappy job all day? Or pregnant? Or injured? Or children? Or what if there are only a couple seats for the elderly and disabled, and there are more elderly.disabled than can be accommodate by them? Just leave THOSE people in the cold to wait for the next bus; there’s already something wrong with them so they can freeze and die? Why should everyone have to stand? The problem should not be solved by punishing riders and removing seats, that’s ridiculous.

  11. Metro should hand out free day passes for riders passed up that say,
    ‘Sorry we fucked up your day, hope this takes some sting out of it’
    Of course the cost of the pass is deducted from both driver and schedulers in equal parts. Now that will sharpen some pencils and tongues.

    1. Call 206-553-3000 and tell ’em where you were missed- they’ll probably mail you a couple of trip passes.

      1. I got passed up again today, standing with another wanna-be passenger at Westlake & Highland in freezing temperatures. Driver of a SRO-but-not-crush-loaded #40 proceeded passed us at 25MPH while giving us an apologetic head shake.

        Metro is facing the very real prospect a public vote on creation of a TBD in order to save their agency. Management needs to drill into the heads of drivers that you do NOT pass up passengers, ESPECIALLY in this political environment. Drivers who do so will find themselves out of a job, either immediately or a few months later when those pissed off riders vote NO on the TBD.

      2. Dilemma: Handicapped riders have priority on the accessible seating. OK.
        #3 pulls up to Harborview, crush loaded, and a wheel chair bound customer wants the lift.
        They normally let the driver off the hook and say they can wait.
        Some don’t and want to exercise their rights.
        How many riders do you kick off the bus to load them, or do you just say you’re full, and move on?

      3. I had that situation happen quite a lot. Usually if I was crush loaded on the 3/4 there would be a bus right behind me. I’d ask the wheelchair user if he/she was OK with catching the bus right behind me. If not, I’d ask for volunteers to take the bus behind me so I could load the wheelchair user, and I’d usually get enough space to load him/her.

      4. mic, that’s a good question with no easy answer. Does anyone know if Metro has a policy for this situation?

  12. While I agree with most all of this, there are some rare circumstances where I make what might be interpreted as a rude effort to stay towards the front.

    I’ve had, in the past, been forced to wade in a crush load-bus from the very back to the very front, carrying a sleeping 45 lb child and a 30 pound bag. The driver wouldn’t open the back door for me. Boy did I wish I’d stayed up front. Never again when that laden.

    When I’ve had my bike on the rack, I’ve gone 2 stops beyond my desired stop, again at crush-level, in order to not take a chance that the bus driver would drive off with my bike if I exited the rear.

    If someone can recommend a better policy than rudely hugging the pole next the driver to avoid these two situations, I’m all ears.

    1. Report any and every driver who won’t open the back door at any but the most crowded stops? Have some sort of claim ticket for your bike with a chip that you can use to alert the driver to wait for you to get your bike off?

    2. +1 about navigating the bus with a kid. A few times I’ve had to take my oldest to elementary school on the morning 358 and I’m always worried about how we’ll wade through the sea of people to get off at our stop. Luckily other folks were also getting off at that stop, so we were able to draft behind them through the crowds, but the idea of one of us getting off and the other not before that back door closes…that scares the crap out of me.

    3. If only these suggestions didn’t sound so fanciful.

      I’ve complained to Sound Transit twice about drivers not opening the back door on the eastbound 545. Most are great, and will let me off! It’s just the rare few whose behavior I wish would change, and I haven’t seen it happen. Thus, I’m not confident that reporting drivers / filing complaints has the desired effect.

      I explained my quandary to the customer service agent. She gave the reasoning that — since we’re now doing Pay-as-you-enter, such a very, very recent change that the daily commuters of the 545 might not yet have adapted to — people might rush on through the back door, and that was why drivers might keep the door closed.

      At Evergreen Point? The stop across the lake from the Ride Free Zone? Where people almost never board, much less through the back door?

      She also suggested that I “talk to the driver” — which is difficult when I’m sitting at the back of the bus, having moved there to not be in the way of others behind me, and untimely if I’m running forward from the back of the bus to get off. Nor is there an efficient way to ask, when boarding, whether they plan to open the back doors at a particular stop. I shouldn’t have to: this is something I should be able to take as a default.

      Some drivers also give the rationale, as I scramble forward, holding up the entire bus that just wants to get to Redmond, that it’s “not safe” to exit onto the concrete divider. I don’t buy this because drivers who do open the back door simply pull up farther, so the door is past the concrete divider.

      I’ll still move back, but when I was first learning my commute, this made me an obstrusive pole-hugger many a time. And I wouldn’t know what to do if I had a kid or any sizable bag.

    1. Get over it and complain to Metro. Your olfactory sensitivities do no trump the passengers who have been passed up twice out in the freezing weather, as is a routine occurrence for my coworkers. (I leave later partly to avoid the insanity that is Route 40’s evening rush.)

    2. On the 358, I think some folks don’t want to move back because that’s where the scariest people are sitting.

  13. Nathaniel, absolutely right on hinge handholds on first-model artic hybrids. Fact that succeeding models at least have straps indicates there’s no excuse for whole fleet not having them. Might be good for passengers who either are or have attorneys to send a brief note on letterhead to writer’s King County Councilmember stating intent to sue if injured by this easily preventable failling.

    Kyle, you’re right about two and one seating- common in Canada. Where rush hour standing loads are likely, more aisle space means more comfort for more passengers- and a faster bus ride for everybody.
    Additional condition, though: transit needs many more reserved lanes and much more signal priority. As regular rush-hour rider, with heavy pack, can testify that standing aboard a moving bus, with pack at parade rest on the floor close by my foot, standing aboard a smoothly moving bus is bearable. Stop and go? Cattle trucks seem to avoid holding standing livestock in traffic.

    Brent, results of a driver leaving their seat to tell anybody to do anything are always bad. Trust me. Really doubt police would even show up. This is transit supervisor’s work, and probably good idea PM rush in Tunnel. Get with your King County and/or ST elected reps.

    Zach, in addition to powerful electric motor, only good thing about the Bredas was the third door. Unprintable-expletive stupidity to spec out hybrid Tunnel fleet without them. Only sensible way to handle DSTT boarding is to treat each section as a separate bus.

    Including: same expletive with earlaps for farebox use in the DSTT, especially at PM rush. LINK passengers can help with this one. I usually ride trains with my cell-phone stop watch turned on, and note duration of every Tunnel stop between stations. Should also be able to document operating damage with a public information request for data as to how many times that idiot train delay apology comes on every day.

    Good tactic might be to get cell-camera footage with time, date, and location noted, and e-mail it to your Sound Transit Board member- with estimate of cost of operating time lost. And since we’re still a capitalist society, a bill for lost personal time too.

    And- in recognition of extensive surveillance apparatus, and attendant posted warnings, aboard transit and everywhere else, jpegs of our own reminders in same font and format as official surveillance-reminders:

    “For the Transit Agency’s own safety and electoral survival, preventable operating delays are being monitored, noted, recorded, and remembered at the polls. Thank you for your cooperation. Your voting passengers.”


    1. Another problem in the hinge area is walking through it to get to the back door before the bus stops. I inevitably run into people as I try to step from one overhead stanchion to the next, especially if I’m wearning a backpack. These buses really aren’t designed for back-door exiting. Other cities have the doors near the middle and don’t have articulated buses.

    2. Mark,

      I can understand why operators holding up a bus in the tunnel or in the CBD would be problematic.

      Outside of the CBD, where the next bus is 15 minutes to an hour away, in freezing cold, is where I hope operators will make the effort to cajole passengers to move back, and I don’t mean confronting passengers face-to-face except when there is a window between them.

      BTW, Would anyone happen to know if the proposed ATU contract allows non-drivers to be hired as ORCA Boarding Assistants? The tunnel and 3rd Ave could flow faster if there were more boarding assistants, but ATU taking the ridiculous position that that is operator’s work has made that option cost-prohibitive, not just because of having to pay boarding assistants operators’ wages, but also because Metro has to hire more part-time drivers to fill the gap covering routes during peak when those senior operators picking light duty at full wages are most needed behind the wheel. Having more boarding assistants, at a wage more appropriate to that position that clearly has less responsibility than operating a bus, would help fill up the back ends of buses, and reduce unnecessary pass-ups. Indeed these boarding assistants would remove any reason for the operator to get out of the bus in the tunnel or on 3rd Ave. Plus, having a boarding assistant at each major stop would help scare away the seedy elements that make passengers not want to wait at that stop.

  14. BTW: That’s “and” attendant warnings. Really no need for an attendant, holding a straight jacket or not.


  15. An interesting practice at crush load is drivers allowing board at the rear to speed up service. While it does make the driver potentially complicit in fare evasion, there is often justification for allowing reardoor boarding. Payment can always be made at the end of service if possible. I’ve seen this done plenty and it makes good sense in my opinion.

    1. I saw this happen yesterday on the 120 on my way to the open house. I’d actually be fine with the idea when a bus is SRO, and everyone who gets a seat has paid for it. As it happens, this 120’s seats weren’t all filled. I cannot vouch whether the four passengers who boarded at the open door in the rear ended up paying. Nor was there a long line to pay at the front. The operator was just saving the time it would have taken for them to walk to the front door.

    2. If a bus is crushloaded it’s already paid for itself, so a few people not paying should not be an issue. The real issue is the need for more buses or HCT, and three or four more fares is not going to make a difference in that.

    3. The problem makes a good case for all-door boarding. If you could get on the back door and black parka guy was right in front of you, you could easily squeeze to the left and fill the space.

      1. How do you realistically implement all-door boarding without implementing off-board fare payment?

      2. ORCA reader by the back doors, cash fumblers must use front. MUNI does this now, seems to help.

  16. I’m often the last person squeezing in at Convention Place, and I’m transferring to a half-hourly bus so I really need to get on this one. In practice I leave early to take the second-last bus, so that if I can’t get on or it’s ten minutes late I can still make my transfer.

    So it pains me when I’m sitting in a crowded bus and I can see space for three or four people in the middle but the driver says “The bus is full; I can’t let any more on.”

    1. Worry not. The last run on your route will soon be cut. Those who take the second-to-last run for the sake of making sure they don’t get stranded will board the bus previous to yours. You’ll have plenty of space!

      Oh, wait, I think your run, and the run previous to that, are also being cut. But there will soon be plenty of room on the run two before yours.

    2. I’m not talking about the last run of the day, but the last one that arrives in time to make my transfer. That’s usually in the early morning or late morning, but it can be in the afternoon or evening.

  17. For point 3, stepping out. If you’re afraid that the bus/train will take off without you, step just to the side and keep one hand holding the door. If the door can’t close, the bus can’t leave.

  18. Another thing I’ve noticed: people consistently going out of the way to deboard up front in order to thank the driver. A nice gesture, surely, and very Seattle, but detrimental overall.

  19. A lot of people are being way too inflexible. The solution to boarding delays is never going to be convincing everyone in King County to stand in a part of the bus they’re scared to be in (Kyle S) or to exit via the back door then walk in front of the bus to get their bike without being sure the driver understands their intention (Morgan Wick). Though some degree of behavior change is probably desirable, people will not change their behavior in these ways, and to suggest they should is pissing in the wind.

    An agency that wants to improve boarding delays and get people on crowded buses has to make systematic changes. We sure should be telling people to move back (and drivers should use their own voices to do so when necessary, because many people tune out out the canned announcements)… but we’d also better consider SF-style all-door boarding and seating layouts that allow better circulation for our busiest routes. To forget our failure to get urban seating layouts on RapidRide coaches when talking about boarding delays and loading failures is missing a big part of the point.

    1. You realize it would cost money to take out seats, and Metro is facing a 17% service cut so it’s not like it has extra money for this. Plus it would probably have to buy single seats because it doesn’t look like the double seats can be separated.

      1. Of course reconfiguring buses would cost a bunch of money. And of course we should find ways to get people to cram onto existing crowded buses better, like they do in every city. But there are issues here we won’t solve by changing behavior, and there are behaviors we can’t and won’t change. In the long term we have to have equipment and policy that supports better loading.

    2. Some continue to push for maximum seating capacity, as they feel entitled to a seat. We have to keep on educating the undecided politicians and decision-makers about the utility of maximizing standing space.

  20. I wish Metro would change the seating to 2×1 on the buses (at least on the new ETBs)

    Would improve things alot

    1. +1

      With as crowded as our buses can get, it makes little sense to maintain the style of seating as we have. Especially when a lot of these seats get used for bags and briefcases anyway (even when folks are already standing).

      1. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself and ask the person claiming a seat of its own for his/her backpack or bag, to please move it. I have started doing this, and pay no attention to the annoyed looks I sometimes get.

    2. True for peak, perhaps, but for off-peak, the extra capacity is unneeded and it would force some people to stand who, with 2+2, are currently able to get seats. Since you can’t easily change out buses between peak and off-peak, you have to use a compromise system that works for both.

      1. Fewer seats means more people have to stand. Additional seats hurt capacity and circulation. 2×1 is one of many possible compromises.

        Our current system is not the most seats possible, but damn close to it — it’s probably the most seats plausible for urban buses (some high-floor ST buses have more seat-heavy layouts and I’ve seen buses in suburban Luxembourg with lots of big seats and extremely narrow aisles that are excessively hard to board with a suitcase… these would be beyond the pale for Metro). The fewest seats possible would be none or near-none, as seen on many airport shuttles (both trains and buses, serving various functions — these are great for luggage, but wouldn’t be popular for longer trips), and the fewest seats plausible would be something like center-facing 1×1 (I think some NYC subway trains have this, some old Chicago buses do, too).

        Jarrett Walker’s recent post on urban-suburban transit integration comes to mind a little. Integrating the bus fleet operating routes like the 101, 150, 255, and 312 with the fleet operating routes like the 3, 4, 7, 8, 40, and 44 doesn’t allow these routes to suit their specific needs very well.

        One place we could easily draw a line is the trolleybus network. All our trolley routes run through continuously urban areas with close stop spacing, no express highway segments, and high turnover throughout. They all could use a seating layout optimized for circulation (like center-facing 1×1 or some variation). Another place we could easily draw a line is RapidRide. All RapidRide routes run medium-distance, medium-speed routes, mostly on city streets, with intermediate stop spacing, high all-day ridership, and pretty high turnover (they are picked for these attributes from the network at large). They could all benefit from the wider aisles and greater standing capacity afforded by 2×1 seating. That doesn’t catch all the high-ridership, high-turnover routes, but it catches some.

      2. I’m more concerned about passengers being forced to sit, due to no standing room, and the resulting issue of pass-ups. There is a difference between being forced to stand and being shy about asking to sit. I’ve seen plenty of people give up seats when someone told them she/he needed to sit. I’ve also seen operators assist in finding a seat when a passenger requests such assistance. I’ve never seen an operator tell someone they have to stand. On the other hand, I’ve had operators hold up the bus until everyone was sitting, and a few even exhort everyone to sit down.

  21. So instead of tapping the guy on the shoulder and telling him to move back some more, you just stood there and took a picture? Dumb.

    1. As you can see I was in the very back. I couldn’t see that we had passed up passengers until they went past the window as the bus was leaving the zone.

      The picture was taken on I-5 as I stewed about the situation and decided to write this post…

  22. Also, what’s with people who think that their bag or package has more rights to a seat than someone standing?

  23. I disagree that the main problem is people not moving to the back. The main problem is the driver deciding that the bus looks fairly full, so he’s going to start passing up stops. He needs to continue making stops until he can no longer fit anyone else safely on. Trust me, if he stops, those waiting passengers will find space on the bus if there is any.

    Another thing one could do is to report the driver. When you see him pass up a stop, count the number of standing passengers, then put that in your complain, and let the driver’s boss decide if it’s acceptable for the driver to be passing up stops with X number of standees.

    1. That’s generally true, but if the bus is crowded and an identical bus is right behind, or less than 2 minutes behind, passing people up can be correct. The people already on the bus will certainly appreciate not having to endure another several minutes of “move to the back” on a bus that is already probably quite late. Meanwhile, the people waiting will usually find the next bus to be considerably less crowded, and will likely even get seats. This is the classic problem of bus bunching.

      I once rode a bus in east Portland that was moving extremely crowded and moved slow as molasses. By the time we reached a stop next to a MAX station – a major transfer point, I looked at all the masses of people waiting to board and braced myself for another 10 minutes of idling, on top of the 15-20 minutes we had already spent to travel less than 2 miles on a suburban arterial with no significant traffic congestion. I pulled out the bus tracker on my phone and found out that we were so slow the bus behind us had actually caught up to us.

      Then, the driver did something truly amazing – first, he opened both doors to let everybody off who wanted off – with no fare payment, this was quick, in spite of tons of people getting off – then, he closed the doors and drove off, leaving the 20+ people waiting at the stop to board the much-less-crowded bus right behind us. I gave the driver a mental round of applause.

      1. But this post began by talking about buses that pass up stops because the driver thinks the bus is full enough, not because the bus is late and there’s another bus right behind him. You’re never going to train all people to move to the back, always be paying attention, etc. You do, however, have a driver on the bus who can be trained to never pass by a stop because he thinks the bus is full enough. Metro should move this type of behavior into the serious category, and if a driver is found to have passed by stops without having maximum standing capacity, there should be consequences.

      2. Sam, the man who questions the need for any transit at all is suddenly so very concerned about the poor riders passed by those fascist ne’er-do-well bus drivers.

        Congruent? Not so much.

    2. In other words, it’s easier and more effective to train a few thousand employees than millions of customers.

    3. Anon, what I like to do is break down an argument into it’s simplest form. And with this post, it goes like this: Problem – Buses with standing room in middle and back of bus are passing by stops because driver thinks bus is full. Solution – educate all rider to move to back; be more aware. I simply disagree with this solution, even though at its surface it seems sensible. I think the emphasis should be on requiring drivers to stop at stops, even when the bus looks full, end educating the drivers on how to better handle these types of false-full situations. Even if there are people up to the yellow line, that’s never an excuse not to stop.

    1. I agree. I’ve felt this way many times and could have written something like this. But I didn’t, because I’m too lazy. Thanks again.

  24. I love it when people who are at the back of the bus exit towards the front, and then walk towards the rear. It’s just comical!!!

    1. That happens pretty much every night on my way home. A couple of other passengers and I will be getting off the bus near my house. I’m usually the only one to walk to the back door, even though I’m not the only one who’s sitting closer to the back than the front. I even sometimes have to squeeze past people who insist on moving to the front to leave. Then after we get off the bus, more often than not every single person immediately turns around to walk toward the back door as the bus pulls away.

      It’s actually more efficient from Metro’s perspective for people to use both doors at that stop since it’s near the end of the route and almost nobody ever boards in that direction, so I don’t say anything to these people, but you would think they would eventually realize that they would get home ever so slightly faster if they walked toward the back of the bus before getting off instead of afterwards.

  25. Funny thing happened on the way home tonight a guy stood in the balcony section and blocked others from getting one of the three open seats in the back. Well, at least he went to the back of the bus to stand.

  26. Someone not from Seattle was sitting near the back of the bus when she suddenly realized that she was going the wrong way and needed to get off on what was a really crowded evening 372 stopped while passengers were boarding. She asked how do you get off the bus since she’s not from around here and three people simultaneously yelled “Back door”

    There’s got to be a better way.

  27. Something needs to be done to understand why the back of the bus, especially the raised section is so unpopular. It is unpopular here in Vancouver too, and here rear door alighting is the norm except for people with bikes on the front. The busiest line has all door loading at every stop, and that improves the use of the rear section, but it is still not a favourite for most folks.

    I don’t like this area myself, and I think for me it is the idea of being on stage, not so much for the people sitting back there but for the rest of the bus, and also because the lights are often too bright back there at night. The driver will turn the lights off at the front of the bus at night but keep them on at the back, and the new New Flyer buses that Translink is using have absurdly bright lights.

  28. With respect to the 312, it would be cool if the 522, 306, and 312 all did the same stops on Lake City Way. That would make pass-ups on the 306 and 312 more tolerable, and probably be a boon for all-day 522 ridership.

      1. Certainly not, since that is the opposite of what I want. As a former 522 rider, I would have loved to have better connectivity to those stops further south.

  29. What do you think of making all bus routes or, at least, high capacity routes Pay Before You Board, which would require all riders to purchase a transit card from a vending/payment station before they got in line for the bus? Equipping all transit cards with an RFID tag would allow them to be easily scanned as the card enter/exit either door of the bus or at any time on the bus, much like toll tags for cars.

    Also, what do you think about having a design competition to improve the designs of buses, seating, bus stops, routes, and transit lanes (basically mass transit in general)? We could make it an ongoing competition with recognition and rewards for winning designs and ideas.

    Alternatively, what do you think of creating a city, county or state lottery to help fund mass transit?

    1. What do you think of making all bus routes or, at least, high capacity routes Pay Before You Board

      Never gonna happen. The ability to pay a cash fare is a must for social justice reasons, and we don’t have the time or the cash to roll out and maintain off-board cash-capable payment infrastructure at every bus stop.

      what do you think about having a design competition to improve the designs of buses

      This isn’t a problem we need to beg for unpaid labor to solve. Other cities around the world have already solved it. 2+1 with bench seating.

      The “ongoing competition” angle is otherwise known as “being a transportation system design professional.” Asking for the public to do that job for free is just going to produce a bunch of conflicting opinions and pissed-off professionals.

      what do you think of creating a city, county or state lottery to help fund mass transit

      How about we work on things that are 1) actually legal under state law and 2) stable sources of income, like tax authority?

  30. The Seattle police are useless in situations like this. This year I was leaving the SeaFair parade and tried to get on a light rail train. Idiots were standing at the doors blocking others from entering, as I tried to enter a train, a hoodlum took a swing at me and the police saw it, and let him travel on as I was pushed out the door. They saw me take a punch and did nothing. Now I carry a firearm.

    1. Alright, looks like we’ve got the Bernie Goetz of Seattle here (with the level of gravity appropriately turned down to Seattle-in-2013 level).

  31. Every bus I’ve been on that is SRO (typically 522 or 312) the driver announces repeatedly that people need to move back.

    I’m one of those who always has a bike and thus always stays near the front. My goal is to get off quickly because of the time it takes to unload my bike; i don’t want to be a hold-up. The bike helmet I’m carrying is a bit of a tell on that one.

    I’m surprised no one proposed the system Japan uses: Having “pushers” who force people into the train. It reminds me of my efforts to get my bike bag to zip when I’m carrying too much.

  32. STB PSA works! Today’s scene: This cold morning, Fri 12/6, 28X on NW Market St & 8th Av NW, always a long line to board but even more so today for scheduled 8:14am trip. Some of us get on, many others still outside. Driver plays auto announcement to move back, then uses own voice to ask again. Small shuffling to small effect. I’m standing in front half of bus. Emboldened after reading this STB post, I say loudly: “Look at those cold people outside, let’s let them on. We can do this!” More deliberate movements and all get on. Yay!

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