General Etiquette > general

Standing Room Only - Who Gets the Seats

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I haven't seen this addressed here before.  I generally take a bus about a mile into work to save parking costs.  The route is along a busy street that runs from Uptown to Downtown with a lot of stops and a lot of people who do the same thing I do.  This means that the portion of the route I am on is often standing room only for a portion of the trip. The bus starts to clear as we hit downtown a few stops after I get on and is generally emptying after my stop toward the other end of downtown.

Today, as is typical, the bus was full when I got on so I was standing in a packed standing room only bus.  Within a few stops, people were getting off in chunks.  Bafflingly, at least to me, there were quite a few seats left open as people who had been standing continued to stand.  Once I realized the people closest to the empty seats were not going to sit I said, "If no one is going to take those seats, I will," and moved toward the seat where I sat down.  After I did this, other people did the same. 

I got the sense some people thought I was borderline rude for not simply continuing to stand while there were empty seats.  I do not agree at all, especially because there was nothing rude in my speech or actions, and no one else was making any move to sit in the seats.  Thoughts?  If it matters, I appear quite fit, and am quite fit, but standing in heels on a moving bus with my purse is not comfortable for me because I also have relatively severe hip bursitis I am in physical therapy for.  It's far easier for me to run 8 miles than it is to stand for 15 minutes on a moving bus.

Not rude at all. Those closest didn't want them for whatever reason, that shouldn't stop anybody else.

I sometimes will continue to stand if I only have one or two more stops to go. You certainly weren't rude to sit down, if I were in the same situation, I might do the same. But I don't think it was really necessary to announce your intentions. If there are empty seats and no one is moving towards one, just sit down. People may have thought it was odd that you made the announcement before you sat down - almost like they were doing something wrong by *not* sitting down.

Once a seat opens its free for whomever can get their tush in it first.  Usually by default its the people nearest the seat, but someone from across the bus (or train) can certainly head over and say "excuse me' to those standing by it and sit.  There are stops on the NYC subway where if you pay attention you see a few stander's are scoping the train "who's body language indicates they are leaving next stop?" ready to pounce even from half a car away.  Meanwhile some people are settled into standing or whatever and have no issue with continuing to do so.

IMO if a bus or train is reasonably crowded its annoying for too many people to stand leaving empty seats, just because it wastes space.  If more people sat there would be more elbow room for those standing.  So not only do I think you were fine, I think you were more polite by sitting then continuing to stand if there were seats available and you wanted to sit.

Not rude.    You broke the seal, so to speak, for sitting in those empty seats and I suspect that "sense" you got, was others who also wanted the seat but were uncomfortable taking them for the same reason that you were.


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