# Why don't people want to sit there? (a bus riding study).

Asked by phaedryx (6110) August 14th, 2012

Suppose you were the last person to get on at the last bus stop each day on your ride home. Suppose that there are usually only a couple of places to sit each time you get on the bus. Could you assume that those spots are the least desirable?

If so, what data would you collect if you were doing an informal study to figure out what makes them so undesirable?

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I am sorry, are these consistently the same spots in this thought experiment or do they vary in each instance?

The least desirable seats are in the back because the engine makes it hot and uncomfortable to sit, plus it’s a greater distance to the door when you want to get off.

Otherwise,as on a train that you ride every day, I notice the seats that are undesirable vary. Last seats to go are next to children (most people love children but assume they are going to be noisy and they can’t deal with that when they’re tired and want to relax), talkative passengers (cell phone or live conversation) and obviously, as on the subway, people who are crazy or smell bad or are crazy and smell bad too! It’s funny that today on the train to work there was a rare empty seat. It was sandwiched between a woman famous for loud conversations and a parent with 2 small children. It was a fine seat, no problem at all, just not the most desirable one in the car!

Earthgirl (11184)

I should be more clear. I’m thinking of collecting data about where I sit each day. I’m trying to figure out what data I’ll collect. When I’m done I’d like to analyze it for statistical significance and see if any conclusions could be made.

phaedryx (6110)

@Earthgirl so two data points:

where that spot is on the bus
how talkative the person is sitting next to the spot

How would you know if a person smelled bad before you sat by them? I’m mostly interested in the decision process people go through when choosing a place to sit.

phaedryx (6110)

@phaedryx don’t forget the psycho crazy person element especially if you live in NYC. Also, questionable spots on the seat. People always look at them and move on,lol.

Earthgirl (11184)

hmm, if the person looks crazy? Hard to measure, but interesting

phaedryx (6110)

@phaedryx In NYC subways the end seats always go first and the middle seats fill in last. But I don’t think that applies to buses.

Earthgirl (11184)

@Earthgirl now that you mention it, I rarely sit at the very back or very front of the bus.

phaedryx (6110)

If you are safety conscious the middle of the bus is usually the safest in case there is an accident.

Earthgirl (11184)

@Earthgirl Unless the bus has a middle door. The ones here have them, anyway.

I was the cool kid yo, always sitting in the back. (this is public transportation we’re talkin bout here, not wussy ass school buses) If there wasn’t any room in the back, I’d just get off and walk home. Yeah, fuck you guys, I’m going home.

Never really thought about that, bro. I always head for the back, out of nostalgia and because maybe it’s just me, but I seem to be more at peace in the back of the bus. Lol. Mostly I think the least desirable seats are the cramped middle ones where there’s barely any room for anything extra you’re holding, like backpack, dead body, suitcase and whatnot. The same awkward seats that if you sit at and have no extra baggage, you just know some stranger is eventually gonna sit right besides you when the bus gets all crowded, and therefore barricade you against the bus wall. Then you’ll all have to excuse yourself and shit when you want to get off. As far as I know, most people on the bus aren’t talkative, in fact, they’re all grouchy and fucked up, and want nothing to do with you. Or maybe that’s just me. I also hate sitting besides someone because I feel that I’m invading, even though it’s public transportation.

Mostly though, people are just wanting to get somewhere, and just sit wherever there’s space lol.

I also, personally, hate sitting near bus doors. Then you get all these people coming on and off, brushing by you, you gotta keep shifting around and getting your stuff out the way, and if it’s Winter you keep getting all these icy drafts assaulting you. Sucks ass.

Berserker (32738)

The reason the end seats go first is because you are less likely to get squeezed in by a person who insists on sitting down when there really isn’t enough room for them. It’s kind of territorial, lol.

Earthgirl (11184)

@Symbeline Ha ha, just like I was saying, no one wants to get squeezed! They want the roomiest area possible. I’m familar with the cool mystique of the back of the bus. That was true even in high school. But in New York some of those back seats will burn your ass off!

Earthgirl (11184)

@Earthgirl Yeah, also I HATE how buses get so damn hot and shit in the Summer. Man…

Berserker (32738)

Graph out the seats on the bus. Then x every time you see a rider in a particular seat.

Break each x down by gender, initially, until you have more data. I would be tempted to also include a breakdown by outfit, suit, dress, pantsuit, etc… at every level of granularity you deem appropriate by outfit. Maybe include race as it appears to you in your data collection activities.

Then mine the data with minitab. Form hypothesis based on the distance from each passenger and other passengers. Then conduct interviews. See if you can determine who made seat selection among repeated riders and those who board early.

Come to Seattle.
Ride the 358 sometime at night.
After that, you will find many reasons not to be at the back of the bus!

Maybe it’s half a dozen hookers on their way to “work”, maybe a few drunks passing the bottle, maybe somebody shooting up. No matter what, it’s a fun* ride!

* = For sufficiently liberal values of “fun”

Knowing what people are like around the area helps considerably. Some places are sociable, some like to keep to themselves, some are sane, and some are nuttier than squirrel shit. So where people live may affect it (indirectly).

jerv (31025)

Hm well in San Francisco any spot in the bus that’s available is a good spot.

_Whitetigress (4362)

You also have to consider how much confrontation would be involved in obtaining those empty spots. For example, the person who is sitting next to their backpack / purse or the one who is sitting in the aisle seat, preventing you from reaching the window seat. Or when someone is standing instead of taking one of the empty seats and they are blocking your way to the empty seats in the back. Do you ask someone to move their bag? Ask someone to scoot so you can sit? Or ask the person to clear the aisle?

On my commute to school, many people will end up standing because they don’t want to ask anyone to move. It’s kind of interesting to see who asks and who stands.

muppetish (13459)

I can’t recall the last time I went on a bus, but I refuse to sit within sniffing distance of old people with purple hair, feral looking children or Belgian postmen.

ucme (44459)

Assuming that no one else wants the seat, I always choose to sit in a crowded bus, unless it is too difficult to physically push my way to the seat. Otherwise, there is room for one less person on the bus, and everyone who stands is less comfortable. I never assume there is something wrong with the seat, but always look before I sit.

I notice that in crowded buses, inertia can take over sometimes – so that if folks have been standing for a while, they’re less likely to sit in a newly vacated seat. Or maybe they just fear the warmth left by the last sitter. :P

I have sat on enough buses to have experienced all seating options… I don’t think any positions are inherently “undesirable”. I prefer to be facing forward, but not so much that I would turn down a sideways or backward-facing seat.

glacial (12115)

i really like this experiment.
I’d “number” the seats with a letter for the row and a number for the seat e.g. A1 would be the seat right behind the driver. A4 is the one on the passenger side.
i would also make a subjective term called “attractiveness” with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest and let you decide how you want to scale it.
If you are a real data freak you might further define the seatmate by sex race and age. e.g. WM40 White male 40, or BF25 Black female 25 . You might even learn something. Hey, at the very minimum this experiment will help you pass the time.

LuckyGuy (33521)

@jerv That reminds me of one time when me and some girlfriends went to Las Vegas. We were riding the little tram that goes between the Hilton and the Luxor hotels. We got on, and at the next stop a very drunk young man and his girlfriend got on. He was so drunk that he was about to pass out, so his girlfriend layed him out across her lap, taking up the entire row of seats on one side of the tram, while me and my 3 friends were crammed together on the other side with some other people. And the girlfriend never said anything, like sorry we’re taking up so much room, or Bob’s not feeling well.

Kardamom (26244)

I’ve lived a sheltered life. lol

bkcunningham (18424)

So I started doing this study formally for a while, but soon realized that the top two reasons the last spot is empty completely dominate any other reason:

1. The person with an open seat next to them is actively signaling that they don’t want somebody to sit by them, e.g. they are sitting in the aisle seat (which makes it harder to get to the open seat) and they have a large bag in the seat next to them

2. The person with an open seat next to them is overweight

phaedryx (6110)