Our Pet Peeves On Public Transport

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 105 months ago

Last Updated 07 September 2015

Our Pet Peeves On Public Transport
Photo by Andy kirby from the Londonist Flickr pool

We all know the common annoyances encountered every day on public transport — people standing on the left on escalators, passengers planting bags on the seat next to them on a busy train and those particularly bothersome individuals who stand in front of the ticket gates fishing around for their Oyster card (we've dubbed them oyster catchers).

But there are some niche annoyances that deserve an airing, so we've captured a few that test our patience:

Wasting the 'driver's seat'

Everybody loves to sit at the front of the top deck of the bus or at the front of the DLR for the great view and because the inner child in you feels like you're driving. But it's frustrating when someone nabs the seat and then spends the entire journey gawping at their phone — what a waste! Either make the most of it or pick another seat.

Look closely — the woman in the front seat is waving. This is correct. Photo by Adam Smith from the Londonist Flickr pool

Seat searchers

The introduction of Underground and Overground trains where you can walk the entire length without passing through doors is wonderful. However, it has given rise to a specific breed of traveller who is convinced that even on a busy train there must be a spare seat somewhere. He will travel the entire length of  a busy train, pushing past everyone in search of this cushioned El Dorado.

The sidlers

When the platform or bus is relatively empty, there is no need to stand or sit right next to someone when there's plenty of space available elsewhere. It can also be quite creepy when a person sits directly opposite us on a quiet Underground carriage — yes, we're experts at avoiding eye contact but we'd like to avoid it altogether if possible. Other incarnations involve a person standing in front of us once we've picked the ideal spot to wait on a platform and those who insist the leaning cushions on trains can accommodate more than one person; no they can't.

Seated children

When we were young (we were once, honest) we were required to give up our seats for adults. But now the worm has turned and adults are now required to give up their seats to little tykes — when did this happen and why? Who knows, but it makes no sense for a four year old to take up an entire seat when they could easily fit comfortably on daddy's lap.

Pole hoggers

The pole at the centre of the carriage vestibules is designed so many people can hold on to it at once, not so one person can lean on it and prevent others from getting a grip. It's only allowed on the rare occasion when you are the only one standing in the vicinity of the pole.

Nobody else is around: this is acceptable. Photo by Blair Kay from the Londonist Flickr pool

The over affectionate

Yes, we know you love each other. But this grimy, sweaty mode of transport isn't exactly midsummer Paris or the canals of Venice. Keep it in check until you're in a more appropriate setting. Love has no place on public transport.

Door sliders

It's not always possible to predict where to stand on a platform to align with the doors, though some of us have perfected this from years of practice. But there are some who think that if they get it wrong they can simply follow the door as the train slows down, forcing their way past other perfectly positioned commuters. We must admit we've blocked off a few door sliders in our time.

The seated royalty

It's OK to feel smug if you have a seat and others are standing, but this does mean that when it comes to your stop then 'standers' have priority to exit first. Sometimes a 'stander' will gesture for a 'seater' to proceed before them but it's not acceptable for the seated to assume they can have it all.

There is no justification for legs this wide part. Photo by nevermindtheend from the Londonist Flickr pool


This is where some passengers, largely men, sit with their legs so wide apart they stretch beyond the boundaries of their seat and sometimes take up two seats. Examples can be so extreme that a groin strain can't be far off... and not a single fellow commuter will have any sympathy.

The outsiders

When there's two seats it's common courtesy to slide into the window seat so someone can take the aisle. However, some people refuse to do so and will remain aisle-bound and force others to squeeze past them to get to the free seat. We can only imagine they constantly fear that they won't be able to get off at their station, when in fact most of the train empties at Clapham Junction.

The over eager

Yes your station is coming up, and no it won't get here faster if you stand at the door like a puppy expecting its owner at any minute. Trains also won't open their doors until they come to a stop so pushing that button repeatedly won't solve anything either.

That's our list of niche annoyances, but what are yours? Let us know in the comments below.

For more public etiquette decrees, see:

This article has been updated post-publication based on suggestions received from Londonist readers.