eric’s guide to get a seat on a NYC subway/bus

May 28, 2008 at 1:16 am 1 comment

(disclaimer: this guide only covers the specifics of getting a seat on standard MTA NYC transit but can in principle be applied to MTA Long Island Rail Road, MTA Long Island Bus, MTA Metro-North Railroad and whatever else everyone rides.)

1) knowledge is power
a) the first step in getting a seat comes before you even leave the house. you must first understand the layout of the seats on the buses and subways that you will be taking. from this, you should know where to stand if you arent lucky enough to get a seat when you first board.
b) buses: buses are usually layed out very similar to each other. the very back of the bus is where you want to be in order to up your chances of getting a seat. this is because of the last row of seats on the bus.
i) the last row on the bus makes that section of the bus have the highest seat/sq area ratio, meaning that more people are likely to get out of their seats for you to swoop in and take it
ii) the last row on the bus contains seats that are least desireable because they are closest to the engine. in the summer, the seats can become unplesantly warm or even hot. less desireable = less competition.
iii) the last row on the bus is home to the same people who sat in the last row of elementary school yellow buses, making them less desirable also. plainly said, the last row can be scary sometimes.
c) subways: subways are separated into units. one type of unit is the handicap seats unit. there units are at the ends of each subway car and are oriented with the backs to the ends of the car. the other type of unis is composed of a doorway, a three-seater facing perpendicular to the train motion, and a two-seater parallel to the train motion. memorize this, foreigners! some of the newer trains have slight variations of this theme. important: do not stand in the doorway. although leaning against the doorway is more comfortable than grabbing a pole, it is more unsanitary and dumb, since sitting would be much more comfortable. plus, the whole point of me wasting my lunch to write this is to show you all how to get seats.
i) ideally you want to be standing where the two-seaters oriented in the direction of the movement of the train (or opposite the movement) meet the three seaters by the door. this allows you greater access to more seats, raising your chances.
ii) when this is not possible due to crowding, make sure you do not stand in the middle of the subway car with no clear path to any row of seats (either two or three seats connected together). you should be able to move unimpeded to to at least one row.

2) movement
a) boarding buses
i) this is fairly easy since there is only one entrance to a bus and people enter in a set order. grab the best seat you can; youre the only one up at the plate.
ii) look out for fat/homeless people. fat people are fat and take up a lot of room. homeless people smell.
b) boarding subways (this is where things get a bit tricky)
i) as the train comes, you want to guess where the train will stop and position yourself so that you will have first access to a door. this only comes with experience and practice. consider the train speed, loudness of brakes, length of platform, and your location on the platform.
ii) standing near the door allows you to scout; look through the nasty, greasy, graffiti covered door window and spot an empty seat. this seat is now all you will care about. if you arent near a door, scout through a regular window.
iii) as the door opens, move in a straight line as fast as possible to the seat that you scouted. if you see another seat open that was originally hidden from view that is closer, take it, but do not hesitate! many seats are lost in moments of indecision. most people find it easier if they just pursue the original seat.
iv) if a seat is unfilled and the train is crowded, there is often a catch. usually, a homeless person is nearby. sit in the open seat if you want, give the homeless guy your bagel or your spare change.

3) passenger behavior
a) when you are standing, pay attention to what the people in your target seats are doing. if they have made themselves very comfortable, chances are they are on the subway or bus for a long ride.
i) people who are sleeping very soundly, really into a book, breaking out a 20 course dinner, etc are probably on the train for a long time. you will not get their seats unless your ride is longer than theirs.
ii) people who are sitting with their backbacks still on their backs and dont look too comfortable are probably only on for a short time. these people are good targets.
iii) if someone sudden starts putting something away (a music player, newspaper, book) and the vehicle is approaching a stop, start moving towards them if the area near them is relatively empty. chances are good they are about to get off.
b) notice what you do when you have a seat and are about to leave. take note and see if you can spot these actions in other people who are sitting. its different in everybody.

the most important thing of all is practice! dont drive! take public transportation! its good for the environment and you see more interesting people this way :]

after getting a hard earned seat, a cripple with no arms will probably come on. or you will see a 95 year old lady with a shrively head carrying 30 bags of groceries. you will probably feel guilty and give them your seat. you good samaritan, you!


Entry filed under: life. Tags: , , , .

braised ribs, shen family style solution

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. thedailycommuter  |  May 28, 2008 at 1:36 am

    i’m linking you to my blog. let me know if you want to be removed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

May 2008
« Apr   Jun »

%d bloggers like this: