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Friday fun poll: have you given up your seat in the past month?

(Looking for the surprise post advertised in the February print Buzzer? Please click here — it’s about I Love Transit Week and our first live meetup to be held next week!)

So, in last Friday’s poll, I asked which direction you liked to face when sitting on the SkyTrain.

I thought it would be an even split between each direction, but “facing forward” swept most of the votes. Out of 119 votes, 93 preferred facing forward (78%), 14 liked facing sideways (12%) and 12 liked facing backward (10%).

I’m guessing that facing forward was most popular because people generally like facing the direction they’re travelling in. In the comments, exceptions were explained again. Bill Kinkaid offered his strategy for boarding, if he’s not travelling too far:

My commuting trip is just two stops, from one station with a centre platform to another with a centre platform, and a station with side platforms in between. So for only two stops, I try to be the last one to get on and just stand by the door!

Sideways seating also had its proponents and detractors: :-| and Mike liked the sideways benches for leg room, plus not having to get up for other people to exit the car, but Dan hated the lack of elbow room, and Bill Kinkaid said “I hate sitting sideways on any form of transportation.”

And I asked about how people liked the captain’s chair on the Mark II trains — turns out there is quite a bit of affection for that seat, although most leave it for the kids. Cow also mentioned that it was good for those new to the region:

I really like the captain’s chair, honestly. When I first moved to the region, I sat in it a few times and just rode the train around; it’s an amazingly good way to get the lay of the land in the Lower Mainland. Now that I’ve seen both routes the whole way, I’ll leave it for others, unless the train’s totally empty.


So, for this week, here’s a new poll:

Feel free to be honest, as there’s no judgment here: I’m just wondering whether people do find themselves ever giving up their seats to other passengers. If you do, who do you generally offer your seat to? If you don’t, why do you think that is?


  • By Holly, February 20, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

    Since I mostly use transit with my toddler in tow, I find that people are giving up seats to me these days. However, I voted yes, since sometimes I travel with my husband and if he has our daughter on his lap, I’m happy to stand if someone else needs a seat.

  • By Scott Clayton, February 20, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

    If there are no seats and someone has to stand, I’d prefer that person be me. I’m 23, fairly energetic, and can balance myself alright. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone on this standing-front. Often there might be >5 people standing and <5 available seats, so it can turn ridiculous. Like a reverse ‘tragedy of the commons’ or something.

    Anyway… I prefer giving up seats when there are no others available, and since I don’t sit up front, it is only in these instances. However, some people can take offense to being offered a seat, and I don’t want to offend anyone, so offering a seat can be tricky—I can’t count how many times people have said to me “I’m not that old yet.”

  • By Dion, February 21, 2009 @ 2:15 am

    I do I usually offer my seat to others, just not as often. I generally take the community shuttles where, except for rare instances, everyone gets a seat regardless or I travel (accidentally) during rush hour, when seats don’t exist.

    Like Scott said, I also have an issue with the etiquette of giving up your seat. I’d be more than wiling to, but past experiences of fellow passengers being offended and scolding my friends and I has forced us to play the age guessing game everytime to see whether or not we should be offering our seats out.

    On the bright side, as much as I love Hong Kongs transportation network, seats there are almost always first come first serve no exceptions. There are the rare times where a seat will be offered, but aside from that, usually everyone too busy to care who’s getting on and getting off. VERY sharp contrast to Vancouver.

  • By Steven, February 21, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    After sitting in an office all day I am more than happy to give up my seat. I have offered my seat to fellow travellers in London who have aggressively come back said “does it look as though I am incapable of standing?”. So sometimes you can’t win and create a diplomatic incident of massive proportions.

  • By ;-), February 21, 2009 @ 4:18 pm

    I keep offering them window seats, but rarely does people want them. ;-)

    I have to say, if I’m at the front of the bus and empty handed. I’m more likely to skip the seats.

    If I’m likely at the back of the bus, with a heavy pack, on a trip longer than 10 minutes, I’m likely going to stay in my seat to stay out of the busy aisle.

    PS it’s not easy reading this blog in one hand and holding a bar with another.

  • By Gennifer, February 21, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    When I’m on the train or the bus I don’t offer my seat because I don’t sit close to the doors and I always have my iPod on and am looking out the window. And reading all these comments of people who have been scolded for trying to do something nice for another person (and it shouldn’t make any difference whether you’re 25 or 75, they are trying to do something nice, not insinuate that you’re ancient!) will just make me think twice before offering my seat to anyone.

  • By stephen, February 22, 2009 @ 5:25 am

    I’m 67 so don’t get to offer my seat very often but if there is someone pregnant, with a cane or obviously elderly I will stand for them. Even though I’m a young looking pensioner, occasionally some young gracious person will offer me a seat and I usually accept if I’m not getting off the bus soon. I’ve always got something to read or the crossword to do, and it’s much easier sitting down to enter a word.

  • By Dave, February 22, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    I am a person with a disability so I try not to give up my seat but if there is someone who needs it more than me than I would. I do find it annoying that people that could stand don’t offer their seats to those who need them.

  • By Eugene Wong, February 22, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

    I voted “no”, because I haven’t been using transit a while lot in the last month, since I have stayed at home [i.e. not commuted a whole lot] and travelled [i.e. vacation travel]. Now that I think about it, I did give up my seat for 2 or more people.

    I usually try to keep an eye out for people who need it, and/or groups that are travelling together.

    On the Via Rail train, somebody wanted/needed a power outlet. I wanted him to have a pleasant trip, so I gave him my seat.

    On Shanghai’s subway, a group of people were travelling together, and I didn’t want the kid’s shoes kicking me, so I gave up my seat.

    I remember a while ago, I gave up my seat to a kid, because I didn’t want the kid to have to hold on to something just to avoid falling. The kid didn’t *need* the seat, but I thought that the kid would be safer in a seat.

    To those people who got offended, when offered a seat: please don’t be so sensitive! :D

    On the other hand, some people are smelly and filthy. I’ll be glad to stand not sit down. ;p

  • By Sungsu, February 23, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

    I used to stand even when seats were empty, but now I strategically take a seat so that I can offer it to someone who needs it.

  • By David, February 23, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

    In the morning I stand on SkyTrain regardless of seat availability. On the way home from Waterfront I will grab a seat if there aren’t many people getting on there. When selecting a seat I consider the following factors:

    – I try to sit near a door where my departure will cause the least disruption to other passengers.
    – I’m aware that many passengers don’t like sitting next to male strangers.

    I will give up my seat if asked and will offer it to someone who appears to need it (elderly, disabled, pregnant, small child).

  • By Trevor Harrison, February 24, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    I need a seat, as my balance is bad, and I think my backpain would kick in quickly. Anyone do the Water/King/VCC loop to get a seat?

  • By LisaB, February 24, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

    I virtually never sit in the courtesy seats up front ever since a friend pointed out that not all disabilities that would make one need a seat are visible/obvious. I prefer not to have to judge/guess who needs the seats, especially since I can certainly stand without hardship.

    I try to offer my seat if I see anyone older or with a cane, etc but I have to admit, sometimes I get lost in my thoughts and don’t pay attention to who is around me!

    I think people in Vancouver are generally pretty good about offering seats.

  • By Dan, February 27, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

    I only offer my seat if an elderly person, disabled person, or very pregnant mum would otherwise have to stand. I usually take the B-Lines and the train though, so I’m rarely near the front seats and, consequently, rarely confronted by this situation.

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