As a national news organization, Grist generally avoids hyper-local issues. Other than our Seattle office and entire aesthetic as an organization, we’re so much more than just Pacific Northwest! But with the Alaskan Way Viaduct literally feet away from our office windows, we couldn’t help but notice: VIADOOM IS UPON US.
When that hazardous downtown highway closes for good Friday night, Seattle will officially enter what’s known by traffic wonks as the “Period of Maximum Constraint” and what the rest of us call the “Seattle Squeeze.” It’ll exacerbate our already shitty tech-boom traffic, adding hours to typical congestion times and totally ruining everyone’s single-car lifestyles …
Which brings us to the diamond in the concrete: The Seattle Squeeze might just expose a whole bunch of Seattleites to the joys of public transportation. Even the Seattle Times offered up a (hilariously titled and simple) guide to transit. But we know that you know how to Google a bus stop location. What about some of the more thorny issues of etiquette that go beyond the be-fleeced Seattle streets? Transit rookies, we’re happy to have you — let’s keep it that way.
- Be kind — don’t stare. Your experience on public transit will be easier if you go in fully accepting that everyone is just trying to make it through the day! If someone is having a good cry, or Tindering wildly, or sneezing uncontrollably — it won’t make their lives any easier if you’re staring disapprovingly! Trust, you will someday have your OWN moment when you need everyone to considerately ignore you. — Eve Andrews
- Don’t crowd the doors. As the bus pulls up, you see enough space for jumping jacks or an affordably priced microstudio. But then the people at the front plant themselves mere feet from the doors. Days later, you’re all aboard. Don’t be like them – file to the back, take a seat, whatever. Just don’t crowd the doors. — Daniel Penner
- If you bring a super cute dog on the bus, let people pet it. Come on. Don’t be a dog hog. This could actually be the best part of somebody’s day. Important addendum: If the super cute dog is a support animal, don’t try and pet it. You are a grown up, after all. — Claire Thompson
- If it’s crowded, sit in that empty seat. Maybe you want to be polite. Maybe you don’t want to sit next to someone. Or maybe this is just a problem in Seattle! But crowding into the standing room while leaving seats empty is a waste of space for everyone. — Jesse Nichols
- Don’t take up two seats on a busy bus. What’s a surefire way to look like a noobie? Putting your bag on the seat or claiming the aisle position despite no one next to you. Someone will ask you to move it. Don’t be fooled by their apologetic Seattle tone. Everyone swaying with the bus now thinks you’re a misanthrope. — Darby Minow Smith
- Take off your goddamn backpack. This is like taking up two seats, then strapping one of those seats on your back and using it to knock over someone’s latte. Seriously, put the bag between your legs or kiss your ass goodbye! — Zoe Sayler
- The seat is not for your feet. We know; the bus is not comfortable. There isn’t a lot of legroom and you’re squished close enough to someone that you’re practically in their lap. But this is not your living room! Your shoes — the ones that have traipsed all over dirty city sidewalks — don’t belong on a bus seat. Respect the furniture! What would your mother say?! — Annelise McGough
- Don’t get up more than 10 seconds before your stop — especially if the bus/train is crowded. Unless you are POSITIVELY CERTAIN that you will miss your stop if you don’t start moving right this second, there is no need to disrupt the delicate train-car/bus equilibrium by moving about the cabin. Sit tight and trust that you will be able to escape without positioning yourself at the door five minutes early. — Zoya Teirstein
- Escalator etiquette is a lot like freeway etiquette: The slow lane is on the right, and the fast lane is on the left. In a perfect world, everyone might be better off if they just stood still. But until society learns to reject self interest for the greater good, follow the rules of the road when you’re riding the escalator in the transit tunnels. — Jesse Nichols
- Thank the bus driver. This may come as a particular affront to the frostiness of Grist’s hometown. And driver-thanking culture does vary wildly from city to city. But in what world would you trust a speeding, 20-ton hunk of metal with your life and not extend basic politeness to the person driving the thing? — Zoe Sayler
Want more inspiration for giving up that single-car lifestyle? Watch our video on how you could save money and get healthier: