Rider’s Guide to San Francisco Public Transportation

Whether you’re riding BART or Muni, every trip can be a rewarding and memorable experience if you follow the tips below. You’ll learn some time-saving tips, proper transit etiquette, and how to win new friends in this guide to the San Francisco Bay Area public transportation.

Save yourself time by eating and drinking

Let’s face it, commuting to work on public transportation can turn into a daily grind. Save yourself time in the mornings by eating breakfast on the bus or train. Don’t worry about spillage if the vehicle abruptly stops. There are public servants that are trained and enjoy cleaning up messes. Cleaning crews employed by Muni and BART are some of the highest paid and most efficient workers in the entire country.

Play music for your fellow passengers

The natural sounds of trains and buses can be quite loud even despite the fact that the ones in the Bay Area are very well maintained. You can help drown out these deafening sounds by playing music out loud for yourself and for your fellow passengers. Everyone within earshot will genuinely appreciate your DJing skills and music choices and usually will applaud at the end of each song. Make sure you choose a song with deep bass and high-pitched vocals so that you can properly test out the range of your phone’s speakers. If you don’t have a smartphone that can play music, don’t worry! Just access your phone’s Settings menu and play the ringtones that come pre-loaded on your device.

Be like this guy.

Grab a seat if you can and stay put

Nobody likes having to stand on the bus or train. If you are lucky enough to spot an empty seat — grab it and don’t give it up under any circumstances! Giving up your seat would be depriving yourself of one of life’s greatest pleasures — exposing your clothes and skin to the immaculately clean seating surfaces of Bay Area public transportation. Plus it’s not your fault that someone else decided to become pregnant, old, or disabled.

That’s not a stain — it’s part of the upholstery design.

Move to, and stand in front of the doors 1–2 minutes before your stop

This one is obviously most true when you’re on a crowded vehicle with lots of people. You definitely don’t want to miss your stop by being 10–15 feet away from the door when it opens since sometimes the other passengers don’t want you to get off and will try to block you, so make sure that you start working your way towards the door a few minutes in advance of getting off. Since the door areas are generally the least crowded part of any public transportation vehicle, the space can comfortably accommodate a few more people. You can think of it like a game where the objective is to stand as close as humanly possible to someone else and where you earn bonus points by touching their arms, hands, and faces as you try to hang on while the vehicle is still in motion.

Hold the doors for your friends

If you know that your friends are on their way to the train station or streetcar stop and are just a couple of blocks away, make sure you hold the doors for them so that they don’t miss the train. Public transportation in the Bay area is generally so efficient that the trains are never delayed and actually run ahead of schedule, so they can spare a few minutes while your friends ride the escalator down to the platform. Some people will claim that this can break the doors and force the train to go out of service, but those people are liars because I’ve never ever seen that happen.

Make eye contact and start conversations

This is just common sense — humans are social creatures and love interacting with other people while they are confined in close spaces. Some people are weird though and don’t like talking while on public transit. If you come across someone like that, pull your phone and out and make a call on speakerphone. This will help train the non-talkers the basic rules of appropriate conversation and guide them in their journey to learning proper public transportation etiquette.

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