Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Transit Quiz: Which seat on a strange route?

Here's a common scenario for both veteran transit users and newbies.

You hop on an unfamiliar bus taking an unfamiliar route. You know the specific cross street and nearby major intersections, but you don't know where exactly the nearest bus stop is at. No bus schedule is available on the bus, the transit agency website doesn't display properly on your phone, the bus driver doesn't speak English, and you don't speak his language.

You don't have much wiggle room to walk to your location if you get off at the wrong stop. Where do you sit on the bus, and why? These seats are available from front to back:
  • Near the front on the right side of the bus, next to the grizzled, toothless man with yellow skin, in a flannel shirt and mismatched hiking boots without shoelaces.
  • On the left side of the bus the side facing handicap & elderly seats are both completely open.
  • Left side rear of the bus there's a seat open next to a very well dressed and extraordinarily attractive person. There's a large suitcase in the luggage rack near him or her.
  • One row back and on the right side rear of the bus, next to a heavily made up teen plugged in to her MP3 player.
Which seat do you pick, and why?

In my opinion, there is one correct answer, though there may be some considerations I didn't think of. I'll post my thoughts as an update to this article later this afternoon. Feel free to ping me in a comment if I forget :-)


Duncan Watson said...

It all depends on visibility. I would choose a view that allows me forward visibility. I think the front right side would give me that, though some buses have a partition on the right side that can obscure visibility forward. If that is the case I would go with the left side facing the handicap seats.

murphstahoe said...

Next to the hot chick. Aside from the fact that she's hot, since she just came from the airport she's more likely to speak English, but know where your cross street is, so you can pull the cord in a timely fashion.

Yokota Fritz said...

Visibility is exactly the main consideration, Duncan!

I think I would've picked right toward the rear (next to the MP3 teen) because visibility is generally a little better -- especially on buses with a raised rear section. If you can't see out the front you can see through the side window,

Yokota Fritz said...

@Murph: If you sit next to the hot chick, though, she's just distracting you from your mission of watching for your cross street.

murphstahoe said...

In San Francisco there are street signs are in the middle of the street, typcially in the median if it exists, or hung from street lights. There are also signs at intersections, on poles on the corner. By the time you see the corner pole through the side window, you have passed the point where pulling the ripcord will do you any good.

You have to sit on the front right. On the left you are obscured by the driver and the bulkhead behind him/her.

Jon said...

You skip the bus and ride your bike there instead. Clearly!

BiketoWork Barb said...

All reasonable answers, but only one suggests talking to someone who's already on the bus. Are we all that afraid of strangers? Or am I just overly gregarious & too quick to acknowledge that I don't know everything? :D

Sit on the right, between the old guy and the teenager. Ask the old guy where you should get off the bus. If he doesn't know, see if you can make eye contact with the teenager, pantomime taking out the ear buds, & ask him/her.

When I'm riding a different route in my town, I see regulars riding up front where they can engage the bus driver in conversation. (All drivers speak English.) Regulars know where the stops are.

There's no (transportation-related) reason to sit next to the person with the big suitcase; he/she may be from out of town & thus wouldn't know where anything is, and as the bus fills up it will be harder to see street signs and other landmarks.

(I also like the "bike instead" answer--more flexibility to recover from a mistake.)


Barb Chamberlain said...

So what's the "only" right answer to the question? :D

Yokota Fritz said...

@Barb: Clearly the one correct answer is "any of the above." :-)

Thanks for your thoughts, all!