I’m a college student, and as rent is expensive closer to campus I choose to live a fair distance away from school and commute by bus each morning to go to class. This is normally uneventful, and people in my town tend to be polite on buses–for instance, people practically scramble to vacate their seats for the elderly, pregnant women, disabled people, and so on. However, one morning I encountered an odd situation and I’m not sure what to make of it in terms of etiquette violations.
I live right next to a middle school (or an elementary school, it’s hard to tell based on the appearance of the kids alone), and as I was standing at the bus stop near my house, I notice a veritable herd of kids being shepherded to the bus stop by a few teachers with clipboards. They were all clutching bus tickets, it seemed. I tried not to panic, but can anyone blame me for being apprehensive of children in large groups?
Anyway, the bus arrived a bit late and already nearly full with people on their way to work and school, but the teachers packed the kids on anyway. The driver seemed shocked as I was getting on (the kids were behind me), and I just turned and looked at them, wide-eyed, and shrugged at the driver to indicate that I, too, was confused. I managed to jam myself in an awkward place near the door so I could let people off but also get out of there quickly–I’m a bit claustrophobic, you see. The kids were a bit loud and obnoxious–sadly, the low standard of behavior for kids these days has desensitized me to some degree, so I don’t recall them being too bad. But the teachers were making no effort to show them how to act on public transit.
What bothered me the most was that the bus, being over capacity, had to pass by stops full of people needing to go places. Work, school, etc. As far as I’m aware, there wasn’t another bus trailing behind and the organization that runs the buses wasn’t given any sort of advance notice. Due to recent budget cuts, bus service has been scaled back, hence there are fewer times in the day when they can afford multiple buses on a route.
Once we arrived at the university, I slipped out of the bus quickly and saw the kids piling out behind me. I gathered that they were on a field trip to the university, perhaps for a tour. Was it really appropriate of them to commandeer the bus to basically use it as cheap field trip transportation? I understand that renting a school bus can be tricky and expensive, but the school district is pretty well funded. While I can conjecture that they could’ve afforded their own bus, I can’t say for sure, so I’m not certain what to think here. 0608-13
That’s an interesting dilemma and one I wouldn’t want to be caught in. However, I’m not seeing how this school group on a field trip should be restricted from using public transportation. Users of public transit have no inherent right or guarantee of available space on the bus or train. For example, the Washington DC subway system during a parade, holiday event or worse, a large political rally. The system gets clogged fast and that means regular commuters have an additional challenge getting to and from work. That also means this school group took the risk of not being able to fit them all on one bus but since the driver let them on, they were accorded every right as paying passengers.
How they behaved once on the bus is a different matter.