Courtesy counts on bus


Passengers behaving badly.

Each day, people riding the bus in Ottawa turn to social media to gripe about each other.

They also vent about buses being late, early, dirty, crowded, hot, cold, going too fast, not going fast enough, etc.

A record number of folks are using public transit — OC Transpo reports 103.5 million passenger trips in 2011 — but do they know how to be on their best behaviour?

The Sun invited etiquette expert Suzanne Nourse, founder and director of the Protocol School of Ottawa, to take a ride and find out.

We rode Route 94 from the Fallowfield park-and-ride to the Mackenzie King Bridge on a recent Thursday morning after rush hour, making observations and taking notes.

On this round-trip, overall, commuters were minding their Ps and Qs.

“I thought people were very well-behaved,” said Nourse.

“Yes, I was a little surprised, pleasantly.”

The majority of people on the bus were in their early to mid 20s.

Many had backpacks or textbooks.

At least half were using earbuds for their MP3 players or smartphones.

“A lot of people are engrossed in their electronic devices, which is absolutely fine.

“It makes the ride a lot more fun,” said Nourse. “But that also means they’re oblivious to other people.”

Seat hog

Riders hogging two seats, using one for a purse or knapsack — while others have to stand — was the biggest faux pas.

A girl with glasses, brown hair slicked back in a ponytail, had a window seat and ignored another passenger who stood next to her, waiting for her to move her bag so he could sit in the aisle seat.

He paused, then tapped her shoulder. She scowled at him and grudgingly placed it on her lap.

“People trump purses,” said Nourse.

Things changed on the return trip to Fallowfield.

“I noticed one gentleman who was totally oblivious to the fact that anyone else was on the bus, but I did notice a couple of people who, when other people got on, immediately moved their bags,” said Nourse.

She said common courtesy doesn’t go out of style.

“This is how people start and end their day.

“Little irritations can become big frustrations at the beginning or the end of a long work day,” Nourse said.

“Just try to be considerate to other people.”

Minding your P’s and Q’s

Suzanne Nourse from the Protocol School of Ottawa gives us these quick tips.

Say hello to your driver

“I don’t think there’s a rule on who says hello first. I think it’s very nice. I think it makes the driver’s job more pleasant if we say hello and if they say hello. It’s part of public service as well.”

Food & drink

“I really have an issue with food. Even though sometimes it’s nice to have a little snack but it’s not a place for a meal … if you’re taking a beverage, it has to have a very secure lid.”


“If you take it on the bus, you take it off the bus.”


“There was some nasty language coming from behind us on the way, which in a public place, I really do wish people would kind of tone down the language. The volume was also a little high.”

Be courteous

“I strongly believe in offering a seat to the elderly, pregnant women, small children who might have a hard time standing … or anybody with a visible disability.”

Talking on cellphones

“I was hearing half of a conversation, six seats away. It’s fine to use a cellphone but keep in mind the volume.”

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