The Science of Selecting Your Seat on the Bus

You would probably guess that most people would say that they don't think about where they sit on a bus. But a recent study using 4 years worth of data* suggests otherwise. 


This applies mainly to the frequent bus user in particular as they use previous experiences of bus rides to influence their decision. Infrequent bus passengers are initially distracted by the novelty factor to make any sort of calculated choice.

This research is based on frequent  commuter passengers typically spending over 20 minutes on each journey.
First of all, the bus type plays a big part in seating tactics. For example the back seats on a single decker bus are viewed very differently to the back downstairs seats on a double decker or indeed the upstairs back seats. Here's a break down of the areas and my advice on where to sit to achieve the ultimate goal for a sole traveller...

A double seat to yourself...

Lets face it.  First aim is to sit by yourself.  Secondary to that is to sit by someone pleasant. I.e. someone who doesn't smell, hack his/her lungs up on a regular basis, play loud annoying drum and bass through cheap earphones or some old gribbly who wants to know your life history (and for you to know theirs).

Single Decker Buses
These are mentally made up of 4 main areas:

1) The front seating area. This is where the gribblies, wheelchair users and pram pushers sit. On a packed bus this is the last place you want to sit. Chances are you will have to give your seat to a more deserving*** person.  You are likely to get stared down by a two year old or spoken to constantly by an 80 year old man. Add also into the mix that you often get the drunks in this area. 

2) The mid section. The is the only real safe(ish) haven on this type of bus. It where the average work commuter would choose by default. 65.4%** of the time they would even sit next to someone and leave a free double seat in the "gribbly zone".

3) The back section. This is where you get the youths aiming for in order to swear, laugh loudly and eat McDonalds fast food. They often enjoy loud conversations on every topic from last nights conquests to the last car they "boosted".  Also the place to catch up on the current "popular music" by listening to it being played at full volume by some greasy mentalist through his cheap earphones. Choose this section at your peril especially if you are travelling alone. 

4) The standing section when a double seat is out of the question.  This can be a gamble. Most people would prefer a seat but if it's a straight choice between sitting in the last free seat next to an unwashed inbred or standing, well.... If the bus is at capacity then standing may be the only option. No one wants to be forced down the aisle to stand as it feels awkward looming over everyone else who is sitting.  However, it's a great place to be if you want to know what people are texting to their loved ones, what book they have on their Kindle or perhaps overhear a conversation between two people discussing what happened last night etc. You are though, best placed to get the next free seat when someone alights.  This particularly hacks off your fellow commuters if you have only just got on the bus and have pushed passed lots of others who have been standing for a while. The added excitement to the standing section when its really busy is the sport that the driver partakes in. Not many drivers can resist the lure of breaking and accelerating extra hard when there are lots of people stood up and hanging on just to see what carnage they can cause.

Double Decker Buses
You would think that this type of bus would present a more difficult decision.  However research* shows that 79.2%** of regular commuters automatically dismiss one of the decks instantly through familiarity and habit.

Upper Deck

1) The front section.  In particular the front seats.  In particular the right hand front seats. This for many, including myself, is the i ching of bus travel.  Here you can pretend to drive.  On older models you can look down the periscope thingy and freak out the driver. You get the best view on the bus. Just one word of caution though.  It is the last place you would want to sit in the hot summer months.  If its hot and the sun is out, then its like sitting in a microwave oven (probably). An often overlooked space is the second row from the front immediately to the right of the stairs. 92.7%** of passengers overlook this potential seat as their attention is drawn to the back of the bus if the very front seats are occupied

2)The mid section. Again a safe bet, but how near the back you go can determine the possible seat companion if you have to share. Towards the back you get the youths who have missed out on a very back row seat.  Nearer the front you get the more "normal" regular commuters who are savvy enough to know that there is no future going to sit near the back of the bus.

3) The back section.  As on a single decker, the youths gravitate towards the back.  This is especially true on buses that have rear facing seats as the second to last row.  This set up allows the typical scruffy unemployable, unwashed, hands down his "trackie bottoms" knob head to put his feet on the seats opposite him.  After all he would have been up early to watch Jezza Kyle then back to bed until 3pm. And now is having to get a bus so that he can "go to me mates to have a bevvy and a few bifters" 

Lower Deck

1) Mid section (no real front section downstairs for seating(unless you are the driver)) This is where the gribblies congregate. They see who gets on and off from this position and are able to walk at an incredibly slow pace to the bus doors to alight at their stop, thus maximising the delay to the regular work commuters.

2) Back section.  Surprisingly this is often occupied by normo commuters. There is an element who will always favour the downstairs, typically if their journey is less than 8 minutes 35 seconds**. However, if the bus is of the type where there are inward facing bench seats on the all sides at the back you can only safely sit there if you have something to occupy you. Eg a kindle, an actual paper book (?), headphones or Candy Crush.  Otherwise the chances of breaking the number one cardinal sin of bus travel are too high. Eye contact. NEVER, EVER MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANYONE ON THE BUS.  EVER.

Thank you for reading this.  If you actually made it this far I congratulate you.  Research* shows that 98.9%** of readers will have given up after paragraph one.  So I applaud you. If you have read it and have enjoyed it, even slightly, then you should probably seek medical attention.  But before you do that please spread the word, share this and follow me and #busbanter on Twitter. I love feedback even if it's shit.  I can take it.

Happy travelling...


*Research: this consists of me using the bus to go to work and back for the last 4 years. Ok not the most scientific analysis but in between Candy Crush games I noticed a bit.

**All figures are, of course, made up.  And why not?  "It's my bloggy and I'll lie if I want to" as Lesley Gore probably actually said in 1963.

***Deserving. Hmm difficult this one. But it has happened.  Go figure.


Popular posts from this blog

Majorca 2016 - Official Press Release

A Trauma Abroad

Recovery Day One. Officially