Why, hello. I’m so glad you’ve come to Vancouver for the summer, to cuddle our hipsters and instagram our still, flat, ocean views. You may have realized that this city is very easy to get around – first, the parts you want to see are actually probably all pretty close to one another. Not like that time you hiked Yonge Street in Toronto and got all Rob-Ford-bender sweaty. And I bet you were delighted on your first Skytrain ride from the airport, though mystified why it appears to operate on the honour system (that is a story for another day!).
But I can’t help but notice you, traveler. No, it’s not your shoes, those are fine. It’s that no one has explained to you the nuanced etiquette of transit. I know this because right now, I’ve just seen you break about six unspoken rules, and it is clear the commuter beside you is ready to wrestle that day pass right from your hands. Some tips.
1) When you get on the bus/train, Keep Walking. I know, it’s exciting, so many places for you to go and sit or stand, you are overwhelmed and must pause for fifteen seconds in the doorway or aisle making up your mind. Where will the best view be? Who might you sit with? This may shock you, but public transit pauses for mere seconds so that a large number of people can get off and on. Behind you, other people must get on. Move. Darling.
2) Perhaps avoid rush hours. In particular, if you are prone to the above, you may note that after you have selected your standing spot and unblocked the door, around 8:30 a.m. there are many people in office wear glowering. If you can spot them amidst the limbs and limited floor space. Why so glum, office chum?! Rush hours are not a great time to haul your giant suitcase or six-month-supply backpack on public transit. They are not a great time to be on transit if you have no idea, or do not care, where you are going, or if you are having trouble with Rule 1. Just give it the extra half hour. Have some coffee, there’s a lot of it.
3) Last down, first up. Whoooo the bus has finally come! I am so tired from casing Zara! And look, open seat at the front of a full bus, who is a champ today? First, look at who else is getting on when you are getting on. Are they elderly? Are they a baby? Is it a pirate with a wooden leg that seems a little hard to handle? Give them priority. If you get on, and accidentally take the last seat in the front because you did not see the baby pirate behind you, it is your job to pay attention and stand up and give priority. Don’t look at that poor lady next to you, or your phone, just stand up and move along.
4) Plan for your stop. Sometimes, we are but sardines in tin cans, in which case there is nothing you can do but try not to be gross or loud (imagine how terrible loud sardines would be). If this is not the case, there are options. If you know you are on the bus for the next 30 minutes, as much as you can, move away from the doors and toward the back. Take the window seat. If you are aware that you are only going one stop on the Skytrain, maneuver yourself towards the doors. Do not hustle your way to the back for a seat you will sit in for fifteen seconds. It is difficult to manage this in concert with #1, but you can do it, promise.
If you do all of these things, the transit gods will bless you and your progeny, for eternity.