Public transit is a beautiful but sometimes soul-sucking modern marvel. In the recent winter months (and in times past), University of Minnesota students have been plagued by inadequate buses, delays in transit and uncomfortable rides on the regular. However, I’m not here to critique the failings of the University’s transit system — others have already reported on and discussed it at length.
As someone who has lived and breathed public transit for the past four years of my life across a smattering of metropolitan areas, I like to think I have a decent understanding of how we, as beleaguered transit users, can make both our journey and others’ easier. In turn, I humbly present my personal guide on how not to be an asshole on public transit.
In order make the bus onboarding and offboarding processes simpler, use the rear doors to exit whenever possible. This rule becomes a bit muddled on campus buses since riders can enter and exit from every door. However, exiting in the back and entering through the front creates a cleaner traffic flow that helps the bus leave sooner. This is especially true on city buses, where riders must pay a fare and can only enter through the front. “How will I thank the bus driver?” you plead, ever the conscientious Minnesotan. “You still can!” I respond gleefully, mirth twinkling in my eyes.
Just do it from the rear door.
Perhaps most crucially, don’t take up seats with inanimate objects. If the bus is relatively empty, it’s fine to take up an extra seat or two with your belongings. However, when the bus you’re riding reaches the Blegen Hall stop and there are 50 plus people waiting to get on — put your backpack on your lap. It does not need a seat. A related note for those of us who struggle to assert ourselves: you’re not being cruel if you ask someone to move their backpack. Side-eyeing them won’t get them to move it.
Speaking of backpacks, take it off when you can. Placing it between your legs on the floor — I know this isn’t always ideal because of abhorrently dirty floors — saves space for everyone. This applies to saving space on the hellish four-seat arrangement on most campus buses. It’s not difficult to take your backpack off and put it on your lap so someone can sit across from you. Yes, it’s a pain. Yes, I hate it too. Stop complaining and let someone sit by you.
Finally, don’t push to get on the bus. The 4th Street Circulator stop at the Bridges Apartment is an absolute nightmare, as everyone has to get to class on West Bank. I, too, lament the fact that it doesn’t run more frequently. However, after injuries and complaints on social media about that stop in particular, it’s crucial we prioritize safety over getting on the bus. Don’t push people to get on the bus, full stop.
There’s not much to be done about hellish transit conditions before the winter concludes (if it ever does; my soul is dying). However, we can all take small steps to upgrade the collective transit experience on campus from utterly nightmarish to mildly annoying.