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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bus stop etiquette 

I have fallen into the habit of getting the bus in the morning to the station. I could walk but if I pass the bus stop and see there is a bus within 5 minutes it isn’t really worth walking any further.

Using the bus has turned into a mini-project in behavioural psychology, however, in watching where people stand and why.

For instance, the bus stop I normally use, has a matrix display telling you when the next bus is due. It is mounted about 12” inside the shelter. This means that people naturally stand about halfway along the shelter so they can keep their eye on the time of the bus.

Anyone arriving at the stop after this person who obeys the British instinct to queue (Am. = “stand in line”) will stand behind them but leave a further distance between them than they would normally. This pattern will be repeated for subsequent joiners, even if it is raining.

Incidentally, one time I stood under the shelter behind a woman standing in the middle of the shelter thing while she had her umbrella up. Mad.

It takes a lot of resolve to not stand in sight of the display but once its done people follow the normal queuing pattern.

At shelters without a matrix display there is a tendency to queue normally unless there is some aggravating factor.

The next stop along, for instance, has the shelter some distance from the stop and at an angle. This completely screws up the Great British queuing instinct and people are all over the place.

The stop at the station on the way home has limited space and barriers at the end. [ The station is a sort of bus garage and the barriers are there to stop passengers getting anywhere near an off-duty bus because they bite. ] So there people start to queue until the queue reaches the barrier and then they try to fill in the gaps or stand around at the other end of the bus stop “island”.

I’m sure there’s a PhD in this for someone.

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