To Move or Not to Move; That is the Question

This is a follow-up to When to Pull the Cord.

As social as people like to think of the human race, we also like our space. Aside from public bathrooms, the bus is one place where this is very evident.

What happens when you get on a bus and there are plenty of seats free? You sit where you want. What do you do when there are few seats free? You sit wherever you can. More often than not, unless they are getting on the bus with a friend, most people will put a seat or two between themselves and the next person, creating a buffer, personal space (even with a friend, a lot of people make a buffer). Only when there isn’t enough space will people usually sit immediately next to someone else.

The question then becomes, what happens when some people get off and seats free up? Do you get up and go get your own seat or do you stay next to the person you sat next to earlier? What would the person you’re sitting next to think if you do? If you don’t?

If you move, the person may be happy to get their own space again. Or the may feel insulted that you felt you needed to move, perhaps because you think they smell or something.

If you don’t move, they may be upset that they are still being crowded when there is space available. Or maybe they are relieved that you don’t find them offensive, and perhaps even that other people will think that there must be something appealing about them to keep you sitting next to them when there are now free seats.

No matter what you choose, there will be some people who will view it as good, and some people who will view it as bad (and some people who will view it in ways that normal minds cannot even conceive of). In the end it more or less balances out, so there is no mathematical solution, and you are better off just doing whatever you prefer if the person does not give you an indication of their preference.

When To Pull the Cord

Having involuntarily had to ride the bus for many years, I’ve gotten to know the experience very well. One thing I’ve learned is when to pull the cord. While most people probably don’t give much thought to the timing (and I know this to be the case), it is not as simple as you would think.

The ideal time to pull the cord varies depending on several factors, but there are two main things you need to consider. Don’t pull it too early and don’t pull it too late.

Too late is obvious, it means that you shouldn’t pull it when the bus is too close to your stop since it will be difficult or even impossible, and certainly dangerous for the driver to stop in time, particularly if it’s snowy or rainy.

You may wonder what’s wrong with too early; what could be bad about pulling it immediately after you pass the stop before yours? This one’s not a safety issue, it’s a convenience issue. If you pull it too early, then the driver will start slowing down too early and it will take a little longer to get to your stop. Granted it may only be a few seconds more, but that’s still a few seconds you get back which can add up day in and day out, also anyone who’s missed the bus, train, or anything else by just a few seconds can attest to the importance of a few seconds.

There is no simple number such as four seconds before the stop, ¾ of the way between the two stops, etc. that can be used universally. It’s really just up to each person to use good judgment and common sense to figure it out. If you ride the same route often then it will be all the easier to figure out.

When to Ding The Bus

Unfortunately I have been—and still am until I can afford a car—restricted to taking the bus for transportation. I have taken many trips, at many times, in many places, with many people. One thing I have noticed and been interested by is the judgment—or lack thereof—that people use in determining when to pull the stop-request cord.

Some people pull it immediately after leaving the stop prior to the one they want—some even earlier than that. Some people pull it exactly halfway, others wait until the bus has all but passed the stop—or even after—and the rest pull somewhere in between.

The ideal time to pull it is simply a case of common sense. You do not want to pull it too early because then the bus driver will slow down right away to avoid passing the stop, thus delaying your arrival. You do not want to pull it too late or the driver may not have enough time to stop and will just pass it and stop at the next one. There is no specific number or fraction that I can give since inter-stop distances vary as do road conditions and traffic, but ideally, you will want to pull the cord as close as possible to the stop while giving the driver enough time and space to safely come to a stop. A general rule of thumb could be to wait until you are about 2/3 of the way to your stop from the previous one.