Commuting Etiquette: Me First, or Just Practical?
When we talk transportation etiquette, it's usually to say that people on Metro escalators should stand right and walk left, or that slower drivers should stay out of the left lanes. This letter is a bit different: How to exit a bus.
Dear Dr Gridlock:
I wanted to share my experience from riding the bus in Sweden, where I was born and raised.
When you take the bus -- for example, in Stockholm -- you enter through the front door, as in Washington. But you always exit the bus from the back door. I was surprised when I started to take the bus in Washington, when you first have to wait while people are getting off, before you can get on.
By getting off at the back door a flow is created through the bus, people can exit at the same time as others enter and a lot of time is saved, especially at rush hour.
So many Washingtonians started out elsewhere and can compare our transportation system with others. I invited readers of my Dr. Gridlock column to do so, and I appreciate getting letters like this.
Several thoughts on the bus issue:
-- People in Scandanavia generally seemed much more willing to follow commonly accepted rules when traveling. But trying to get us to follow a set of transportation rules is like trying to herd cats.
-- The efficiency argument is a close call: Yes, people have to wait to board till people have exited the front door. But at rush hour, it would take a while for all the exiting passengers from the front half of the bus to reach the back door. Since the bus can't leave till everyone is off, the time spent at the bus stop might be the same no matter which exit system was used.
-- You know the front door is going to open, so you're more likely to head for that. People at the back door sometimes have to yell up to the driver to get it opened.
-- Bus lines might deal with the efficiency issue by purchasing more buses with three sets of doors, like the District's Circulator. People can use two sets of doors to exit quickly.
If you'd like to comment on your favorite form of transportation etiquette, you can always do so here on the blog, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (We publish some of those letters in the newspaper, so please include your full name, home community and a contact phone number.)
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