Bus queueIt was almost exactly a year ago when I was shouted at on a bus in Brussels for not having left my seat in favour of a pensioner. I was in the wrong then and had not really been concentrating. Since then I have aimed to pay the utmost attention to the matter, but I have not yet worked out what the correct etiquette is on London???s network of double-decker buses.

The first suggestion should be to leave your seat in favour of someone elderly. But what constitutes elderly? If I left my seat for ??? say ??? a 60-year old man, would than dent a person???s self confidence? Double-decker buses also complicate the matter. If a person is fit enough to get up the stairs to the top floor, should you give up your seat to them, especially as standing on the top floor is not allowed anyway?

There are also whole ranges of gender-based factors that also come into play. Should a woman carrying large bags of shopping be given priority for a seat? Yes, I would say, and I would do the same to a man in the same situation. But on the other hand, could I ever hope that the other people in a bus would reciprocate?

Always at the back of my mind is the fact that this is after all London transport where the passengers seem to pride themselves on moving away from the doors as little as they possibly can to let passengers off the bus, and the drivers seem to have fun trying to throw the passengers off their feet. It???s the most ugly and Darwinian of environments ??? the strongest wins.

Imagine you are queuing for the bus with 10 other people, 3 of them frail, and there are about 5 standing places left on the bus. What do you do? You could wait and let the frail people pass, but you can be sure that the other able bodied ones will not wait. So you and the frail ones will be left at the bus stop. Repeat for the next bus, and the one after that until you are late for work. So you just fight.

Also on British public transport you just get horribly nervous. My automatic tendency is to speak out if there are clear breaches of decent standards of politeness etc. but whatever is said just falls on deaf ears. It???s the same sort of scenario as I wrote about here a while ago about the Stansted Express ??? read it here.

What can you do about any of this? Very little really. You could design London buses in the way double-deckers are built in Berlin with 2 staircases to facilitate flow of passengers and hence lessen tensions. You could put some more signs telling people to give up seats to those more in need. But the crux of the problem is that London is such an anti-social place, and its public transport its most antisocial facet, that I should just forget my morals and fight. It???s a hard thing to do though.

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