Posts Tagged: megabus



Public Transit Psychology: Anti-Social Behaviour on Buses

Most humans are social creatures – we enjoy the company of others (typically) and others enjoy our company. However, anyone who rides public transit on a regular basis knows that chatting it up with a stranger or sitting next to someone on an empty bus are pure violations of an unspoken set of social rules.

Another example: when a bus nears full, the objective becomes finding a seat next to a non-weirdo. And when the bus is full, well... stand next to a non-weirdo. Image by Flickr user fredcamino.

Believe it or not, this type of behaviour has actually been researched and has been coined, “nonsocial transient behaviour” or NTB. NTB in layman terms are strategies used by people to keep strangers away. Based on two years of study, Esther Kim, found that bus users employ a number of tactics to avoid sitting next to the “weirdo” which include:

  • Avoiding eye contact with other people
  • Leaning against the window and stretch out your legs
  • Placing a large bag on the empty seat
  • Sitting on the aisle seat and turn on your iPod so you can pretend you can’t hear people asking for the window seat.
  • Placing several items on the spare seat so it’s not worth the passenger’s time waiting for you to move them.
  • Looking out the window with a blank stare to look crazy
  • Pretending to be asleep
  • Putting your coat on the seat to make it appear already taken
  • If all else fails, lie and say the seat has been taken by someone else

According to the research paper, the reasons for this type of disengagement is related to: uncertainty about strangers, lack of privacy or absence of a personal space, and exhaustion.
While I haven’t done a thesis on this subject myself, based on my personal experiences, I’ve seen many riders apply these strategies. But what I find strange is that why these tactics are rarely ever used in non-bus travel. In particular, I’m referring to airplanes. Socially it seems to me (and I may be a wrong), but it seems a little more appropriate to spark up a chat on an airplane with a fellow passenger, than doing the same on a bus.

So why is this the case? Is there is something inherently unnerving and disconcerting with buses? Or has bus travel simply been a victim of stereotyping for the past decades, which has caused most people to view it as a “lower” class of travel?

Should this be the case, perhaps what we need a little more in our lives are these “Norwegian style” bus campaigns.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.



Sunday Statshot with Nick Chu

A quick look at some of the things that make intercity bus travel work (or not):


With the launching "Megabus", intercity bus travel is no longer confined to seedy bus depots and is actually no longer considered a last resort travel option. It's popularity has skyrocketed - esp amongst young adults. Image by flickr user Shreyans Bhansali.

Fastest growing form of intercity travel: Buses

Number of intercity bus trips in 1960: 140 million

In 1990: 40 million

% decrease in intercity bus service between 1980-2002: 50.6%

“Curbside” bus carrier – Megabus – inauguration date: 2006

First time in 40 years intercity bus travel grew: 2007

Percentage of Megabus riders between age of 18-34: 50%

Median annual income for male workers aged 25-34 in 1980: $46,700

In 2008: $40,000

Percentage more average wage worker earned in 1970 than today: 18%

Percentage of riders booking their Megabus tickets online: 90%

Cost per mile of Megabus ride: $0.08

Amtrak: $0.33

Plane: $0.62

Car: $0.28

Annual passengers: 4 million

Percentage increase in ridership in 2010: 48%

Amtrak ridership increase: 6%

Airline industry ridership increase: 5%

Number of gallons of fuel reduced due to curbside bus carriers: 11 million

Equivalent: 24,000 cars off the road

Curbside bus passenger miles travelled per gallon of fuel burned: 196

Conventional bus: 136

Intercity rail: 66

Cars: 44

Carbon emissions reduced: 242 million pounds

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.