Taking the bus or even the metro in the winter is a huge drag. And that's a huge understatement. Honestly, it's pure hell.
The root cause of the issue: other people. Of course, the STM's questionable, slow, and inefficient service does play a part. However, during the long winter months, when people can't remember the last time they felt a ray of sunshine against their face, decency levels plummet to the point of non-existence.
In short, Montrealers are hella grumpy to each other, especially during rush hour.
TL;DR Bus and metro riders in Montreal have been showing a serious lack of consideration for other commuters. Here are some common examples of small actions you can take to make daily public transit experience more pleasant for everyone.
Here a wild idea: if we all chipped in and did our part to stay conscientious and empathetic towards one another, maybe riding the bus and metro wouldn't be such a pain.
That said, at any point during my morning commute, I often spot at least five instances of rude and inconsiderate behaviour on the metro and bus.
First off, for the love of god, take off the clunky backpack.
I got on the bus the other day and getting to the back of the bus was like trying to swim through molasses. Every single rider — men and women, old and young — had their backpacks on.
Now, in the summer when one is wearing a light t-shirt, this is less of a problem. But when your already bulky backpack is on top of layers of heavy sweaters and a massive parka, it makes you literally take up the room of two people. Blocking the way for everyone else. Be a considerate commuter and keep that bag in your hand when standing on the metro or bus.
Secondly, listen to the "golden rule" of the bus driver and move to the back of the bus.
I can't even begin to fathom why this impossibly simple instruction is difficult for people to wrap their heads around. Riders crowd around the bus driver like little kids waiting for Santa Claus to distribute presents to everyone. When you crowd around the bus driver, it gives the bus driver the illusion that the bus is full, and he may drive straight past bus stops with people waiting because his thinks the bus is "too full."
While what that line-up of people waiting see is a bus that's packed at the front, and totally empty at the back, and it's zooming right past them while they're now left out in the cold to wait even more.
Lastly, don't cut in line. And follow the arrows on the ground to queue properly. School children are better at following this basic law of common decency and civility.
Whether you're waiting for the bus or next metro to come, we are ALL in a hurry, we all have somewhere to be. If you cut the line to get on the metro before all the people who have been waiting, you're being an entitled jerk. And if you're actually running late for something, why not try asking politely "hey do you mind if I cut, I'm running late." Most people will understand and let you right through.
In the end, these small gestures make all the difference. And being kind and considerate has a virus-like way of spreading. In other words, when we are kind to others, they are more likely to show and spread that kindness around.
So, let's keep that in mind when riding the bus and metro, Montreal. The holiday spirit is in the air, we are all over-worked and over-stressed, and we can all use a good dose of empathy from our fellow citizens.
If you've personally noticed other repeated bad behaviour on the metro or bus that have rubbed you the wrong way, please let us know!