By Elizabeth Mabie

Anyone who rides the bus to school and gets off at Baseline station is probably familiar with this scenario.

The bus is already packed with people getting off at the same stop and others continuing on, so it’s a struggle trying to squeeze past. What doesn’t help is the forming crowd around the outside of the door trying to get on that refuse to move out of the way.

I have been taking OC Transpo for eight years and I remember when I first started using public transportation, people were not as rude or entitled as they seem to be now. I can’t ride the bus now without seeing a teenager or able-bodied person sitting in priority seating, someone blasting music, or someone taking up two seats so they can sit alone. I have also been in a few situations where people have shoved me out of line just so they could get on first.

I expected this kind of behaviour in transit while I was in Toronto this past summer, but I now think TTC riders might have better etiquette than OC Transpo riders.

The thing is, I am at fault here too.

I have had my bad days and have let fellow passengers feel my wrath. I once intentionally smacked a man in the head with my bag because he was sitting on the edge of his seat with his legs stretched out and people couldn’t get by. It was a packed bus and he refused to sit like a civilized human being, so I positioned my bag so that it would bump into the back of his head on my way off the bus.

Who am I to be writing an article on poor bus etiquette when I have participated in it myself? Well, I believe that we could all use a reminder of OC Transpo’s rules.

OC Transpo has a 12-page document you can download from their website listing all possible offenses and the fines that accompany them. For example, remaining in priority seating when a passenger needs it more, littering, or obstructing the aisle with objects could result in a $125 fine. More severe acts could cost $500.

“Transit is a shared space and everyone is entitled to a safe and harassment-free ride,” OC Transpo states on their website.

They don’t make those announcements in transit about priority seating for no reason and they don’t make those posters about respecting other passengers for decoration. Public transit is a privilege and we need to stop thinking of ourselves. An act of kindness can make someone’s day and a smile can make it even better.