Please, take a seat if one is available!

Prior to the Covid Pandemic, there was always a number of passengers who were somehow averse to the idea of having to sit down next to another fellow passenger while travelling by bus.

You’ve seen them all the time, and even more so now; that person who feels so disgusted at the prospect of sitting next to a fellow human being, that they’d rather just stand.

But why is it that these people then choose to stand in the narrowest part of the bus, so that other passengers have to push past them in order to get on and off?

The general guidance given to passengers by bus operators is that they should take a seat if one is available, or stand in the ‘standing area’, so that other passengers can get on and off safely.

Where to stand then?

Generally all passenger buses now have buggy & wheelchair areas, where the seats fold up or down. This area of the bus is also utilised for passengers to stand, and you’ll also see there are ‘grab handles’ hanging down.

Bus Grab Handles | Bus, Handle, Bus line
“Grab handles” for standing passengers to hold onto

While passengers are allowed to use the fold-down seats in the buggy/wheelchair zones (when there are no buggies or wheelchairs of course!), ideally if the bus is filling up, these seats should be folded up to increase the amount of standing space available.

Where to avoid standing

The narrowest parts of the bus are the aisle running between the rows of seats, and the gangway at the front of the bus, usually the part between the front wheels.

If you really don’t want to take a seat, try to avoid standing here! And you certainly shouldn’t be standing right next to the driver’s cab door – unless you are waiting to get off at the next stop. And standing upstairs or on the staircase of a double-deck vehicle is a no-no too!

Make seats available to others

While there are people who don’t like sitting next to others who choose to stand, there are sadly others who will take a seat and then make it difficult for others to sit next to them as well.

I lose count of the number of times I can see seats available, only to then find passengers either sprawled across them, or have left their bag(s) next to them so that others can’t use that seat. Or they choose to sit in the ‘aisle’ seat, and refuse to move so that someone can use the ‘window’ seat.

If you can see the bus filling up, please put your bag on your lap! And please, be prepared to allow others to use the seat next to you, who may need it more than you do.

“The bus is rammed!”

If a bus turns up and it looks full, then you may wish to consider waiting for the next one instead. Now of course, this isn’t a problem if your bus service is fairly frequent, or you are travelling along a route shared by multiple services, but if your next scheduled bus isn’t for another 20 minutes to an hour, you may not have much of a choice.

In many cases myself, I have found myself getting on a bus that “looks full”, because there are numerous passengers already standing by the driver’s cab, only to then fight my way further down the bus, and find plenty of available seats towards the rear.

And in reverse, I have been on buses that start to fill up – though there are still available seats – but it takes just one person to decide to stand in the gangway, which leads other boarding passengers to do the same, because they assume there is no seating space left.

Drivers don’t always know exactly how many passengers are currently onboard, but there are capacity restrictions per vehicle type, and it may be the case that if the driver sees large numbers of people gathered by their cab, then they may assume that the vehicle is full and start to drive past stops and not pick any more passengers up.

Which is certainly not nice, not if your next bus isn’t due for another 20 minutes or more.

A lack of common-sense?

Certainly it is my opinion that a lot of bus passengers do now lack any kind of common-sense; I shake my head when people board a bus and then sit down in the buggy/wheelchair zones, when they clearly knew that some poor woman with a pushchair was also waiting to board.

But its not just a lack of ‘common-sense’, there also seems to me generally to be a total lack of consideration or courtesy for others, especially when it comes to those who dump their bags on the seat next to them, and then become completely ignorant of other passengers as the bus fills up.

In conclusion

  • Please, take a seat if there is one available.
  • If you must stand up – for example if you’re only travelling a couple of stops – then please stand in the allocated area, so you are not obstructing other passengers
  • And if you are seated, make seats next to you available to others, by placing your bags/belongings on your lap, where you are able to of course.
  • If you are travelling with a companion or friend, sit next to each other – rather than in front/behind or opposite each other – in order to make other seats available


About WMBU

Stu is the founder of this West Midlands Bus Users website.
He is not a bus enthusiast, but as a regular passenger takes an interest in public transport related matters, having relied on buses to get around for over twenty-five years now.

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