The Beginners Guide to Catching The Bus: Part 2 – Getting on board

In Part One, we looked at what you should do before you even set out on your journey. So you’ve done your homework, you know which bus to catch and have now arrived at the bus stop in good time!

Have your payment ready!

  • Cash – have the exact fare ready in your hand
  • M-ticket – make sure you have already purchased your ticket and have the QR code displayed ready to be scanned on boarding
  • Contactless card/device – have your bank card at the ready, or make sure your smartphone is setup and ready to use as a payment method

Keep an eye out

If your bus is showing as ‘due’, then do keep a look out to see if it is approaching. I lose count of the number of times I see people sitting in bus shelters staring at their phones who then miss the bus as it sails past the stop!

Let the driver know you want to board

As the bus approaches, if no-one else waiting has done so already, stand next to the edge of the pavement so the driver can see you, and hold out your hand to ‘flag down’ the driver, so they know that you intend to board.

This is important when at stops served by multiple services, as other waiting passengers may not want the same service as you. Don’t just assume that the bus will stop if the driver sees people waiting!

Respect other waiting passengers

If other people were waiting at the stop before you arrived, offer them the courtesy of boarding ahead of you. No-one likes a selfish, ignorant ‘queue jumper’!

Let other passengers alight first

When the bus comes to a halt and those doors fly open, before stepping inside, make sure there are no passengers waiting to get off, and if there are, then allow some space for them to do so. No-one likes stepping off a bus into a crowd of people all gagging to get on board!

Validate your pass or buy a ticket

If using a Swift smartcard preloaded with a season ticket (weekly, monthly etc) or Swift Go, or if you’re using a contactless card/device to ‘Tap And Cap’, then just place your card/device on the card-reader and wait for successful acknowledgement. Hold it still! There’s no need to shake it about, as I see many people doing.

If you’re scanning a QR code from an M-ticket on a NX bus, hold your device below the card-reader so the scanner can ‘see’ it, and wait for acknowledgement. Again, hold it steady and don’t wave it about! On other operators’ buses, you may just need to show your device screen to the driver.

If you have a paper day ticket, then show it to the driver so they can clearly see if it is valid.

If you intend to buy a specific ticket using cash or contactless card/device, then tell the driver which ticket you need BEFORE tapping your contactless card/device, otherwise you may end up being charged for an additional single journey.

Take a seat if one is available, and let others use seats next to you

Please do try and find an available seat to use, and use the handrails while moving through the bus, especially if it has already started to pull away.

Double-deck buses have plenty of seating capacity available, don’t be shy about looking upstairs, and don’t be shy about sitting next to someone else either.

If you’re lucky enough to find a pair of seats, please resist the temptation to put your bag or coat on the seat next to you, somebody else may need to use it later in your journey, especially if the bus starts filling up.

Any fold-down seats will need to be given up if someone with a pushchair or a wheelchair user needs to use that space.

If there are no seats available and you have to stand, please try and do so further down the saloon, rather than stand in the narrow gangway between the front wheels!

Things NOT to do while on the bus

  • Smoke or vape – it’s against the law you know! As well as being illegal, it’s also a nuisance to other passengers
  • Play loud music or annoy other passengers – if you must entertain yourself by listening to music or watching videos on your smartphone, please do use headphones
  • Eat or drink – conditions of carriage do stipulate that passengers should not consume food or drink while on the bus. Personally I don’t mind if people want to have a quick swig from a bottle or nibble on a snack while travelling as long as they don’t…
  • Leave litter or make a mess – please take your rubbish with you and dispose of it in a litter bin after alighting from the bus.

If you have small children with you

Please ensure they remain seated at all times, and refrain from letting them run around the bus! As well as annoying other passengers, there is a risk of injury if the driver has to brake suddenly for some reason.

Coming next…

Enjoy your journey! In Part Three, we’ll cover what to do when the time comes to get off the bus…


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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