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Friday Fun Poll: Do you say “Thanks” to bus drivers?

Photo of a bus driver

Now that's a happy driver... maybe somebody said, "thanks!"

I’m sure many of you notice it. Many of you actually do it yourselves. And many of you wonder why other people do it. I’m talking about saying “Thanks” to the driver before you step or roll off the bus.

It happens all the time. You hear it more on some routes than others. Often, you never know who’s going to say it and who isn’t. Some say that it’s a Metro Vancouver phenomenon; others say it happens in other parts of the world like Sydney. I know I’ve witnessed it on buses in the prairies before, but I’ve never seen it in other cities like New York, Tokyo or London while there.

There are those who think saying “Thanks” to your bus driver is ridiculous. And perhaps hearing the word all day starts being monotonous and annoying for some drivers. Others see it as a polite thing to do, especially it’s heartfelt. Regardless, it happens, and people do notice it. I know I do it even if I’m at the back of the bus and need to holler it. But I also know that I didn’t do it when I first moved here. After witnessing it a few times, I thought I’d do the same, figuring it would be a nice thing to hear, especially if a driver was having a hard day.

In an effort to see how widespread this custom is, I thought it would be a fun question to ask as a Friday Fun Poll. But don’t just stop after answering the poll question. Why do you think people in Metro Vancouver thanks bus drivers before getting off the bus? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section. I’m curious to hear what you have to add on the subject.

Do you say "Thanks" to bus drivers?

  • I sometimes say "Thanks". (51%, 304 Votes)
  • Yes, I always say "Thanks". (46%, 273 Votes)
  • No, I never say "Thanks". (3%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 593


  • By Alan Hawker, August 19, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    I sometimes say thanks and when I am on a bus with my step daughter she always wants me to say thanks for her as she is shy. I come from Wales (arrived 18 months ago) and in my home town a lot of people say thanks when alighting from the bus. It is more difficult in BC though, because the exit door is so far away from the driver. In the UK there is mostly only one door on the buses so you get off the bus right next to the driver, so it seems more personal to say thank you. I am more likely to say thank you if the bus isn’t packed, so that the driver would actually hear it.

  • By Sally, August 19, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    Not only do I says “Thanks” but I look them in the eye so they know I mean it! I wouldn’t want to drive the 351 in the bus lanes – cars are always creating havoc. So yes, “thanks” to all the drivers!

  • By Ric, August 19, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    I always say Thank you to the bus driver when getting off a bus. There have even been times when drivers say good comments to me after I say Thank you. There have also been a few times when I said Thank you when getting off the skytrain, Canada line or Westcoast Express by mistake.

    I think that saying Thank you to drivers before getting off the bus is polite as the have been driving all day constantly stopping and going. Saying Thank you will just make the drivers happy.

  • By peter b, August 19, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    I try to thank the operator for the ride, especially when I exit on the front exit. I’ve heard thankful riders in San Francisco and Seattle transit systems as well.

  • By gus, August 19, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    The only time I can recall *not* saying “Thank You” was when I was at the very back of an articulated #8 bus, which was full, and it was a harrowing-enough experience trying to get through the crowd to get off the bus, let alone yell “Thank You” loud enough for the driver to hear over the din of the rest of the passengers!!!

    It’s always nice when the driver occasionally yells “You’re Welcome” back to you!

  • By Timmy Wong, August 19, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    Always – it’s simply a matter of courtesy and thanks for them doing a service for you. I agree on the articulated buses it’s hard to do it from the back, but if I’m walking up, I’ll give the driver a wave or something like that once I have alighted.

  • By Peter, August 19, 2011 @ 11:20 am

    Bus drivers are human too, and it’s just a courteous thing to do.

    I notice it’s kind of infectious, if one person says it and a couple are getting off you’ll usually get people doing it to (kind of a reminder?)

  • By J, August 19, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    Sometimes. I try to say Thanks but when I’m in the back of a crowded bus, it’s much harder and I wouldn’t like to yell it into another rider’s ear.

    If the bus driver doesn’t seem interested in my stepping on the bus, I’m not necessarily inclined to say ‘Thanks’ when I step off.

    There have been times and it’s always pleasant when the driver waves or responds when I do say ‘Thanks’ =)

  • By kifty, August 19, 2011 @ 11:52 am

    I first heard people saying “cheers!” to the bus driver when I was living in Oxford, England, so you can add that to the list of places with occasionally friendly public transit patrons. I picked up the habit there and I’ve tried to maintain it. I didn’t know it was so rare!

  • By Donald, August 19, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    I always say thanks getting off a community shuttle, West Coast Express trainbus, and the White Rock/Tsawwasssen highway buses. With 40′ buses, I’ll say it if the bus isn’t too busy, with 60′ buses it’s kinda silly although those bus drivers should know they are appreciated as well!

  • By Holly, August 19, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

    I almost always say “Thanks!” when I get off the bus. When the driver has been exceptional, I make it a point to get off at the front door and thank them and compliment them. This week, I had a driver who obviously enjoyed his work and I thanked him for that. A happy bus driver can make such a difference!

  • By Bobo, August 19, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    I have always been a “Thank you” person. It was rare to hear someone else say it when I lived in Ontario, so I was surprised to see how common it is in Vancouver.

    But, I think shouting from the back of the bus is sufficiently rude to cancel out the politeness of the “Thank you”. So I only say thanks when I don’t have to shout to be heard.

  • By Hilary, August 19, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

    I usually say thanks. Sometimes I forget or I’m in too much of a hurry, but I try to do it every time so I voted for “I always say thanks”.

  • By TM (formerly Tsushima Masaki), August 19, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    I say thanks most of the time, not always. It depends on the situation and the vibe I get from the bus operator. If I’m exiting from the rear doors of a 60 ft bus, I don’t think the driver’s gonna hear me unless I yell, and that may be disruptive to other passengers.

    If a driver seems disinterested or unfriendly, I likely won’t say thanks. These are the operators who won’t even look at you as you board the bus (and consequently don’t verify my farecard).

    All in all though, I appreciate what the operators do. I hate traffic in Metro Vancouver, and I much prefer being a passenger, it’s a lot less stressful. I’d never want to be a bus operator; you have to deal with jerks, drunks (especially at night), if your bus is late you’ll get some glares or complaints, you have to deal with a lot of crap all the while navigating the congested roads of Vancouver in an oversized vehicle. That’s not an easy job. Getting people to where they need to go all safe and sound, that’s something to be thanked for.

  • By Jacob, August 19, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    If the driver does an great driving job (doesn’t accelerate too fast, waits for seniors to sit down, doesn’t leave Stops 1 minute early etc…) i say “Thank you”
    If the driver just does his job, I say “thanks”
    And if the driver does a bad job, I don’t say anything.

  • By Dave 2, August 20, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    A thank you is warranted for actions above and beyond the call of duty… waiting for you when they see you making a run for the bus… but in general, for stopping at your requested stop… no…

    though last week, I was on a 130, tmalss, I knew she was going to forget my stop request, she almost missed a requested stop at Frances, talking with a security guard on the bus, and chatting with a fellow driver of an out-of-service 130 in the inner lane at the red light at Gravely… all this inspired me to be pre-emtive and move to the front, and sure enough, Don’t Forget My Stop, DON’T FORGET MY STOP. I thought of saying thank-you when we stopped just beyond the Gravely stop, but I’m sure it would have come out with a sarcastic tone.

    Not that this was meant to be an anti-driver post, of course the bad experiences stick with you (like the 135 driver who took forever to get over someone boarding at a rear door), most trips are un-eventful, and saying “Thank You” to a driver that stops at your requested stop seems unnecessary, it’s their job… Maybe it’s my age, I don’t recall anyone routinely thanking the driver in the 70s or the 80s

  • By Scott, August 20, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    As a regular rider of several routes (Esp the 320/502) I recognize a lot of the drivers. If they are polite and friendly I always say thank you or have a good day/night. I’ve seen drivers before though that say nothing when people thank them and that is rude. Most drivers though appreciate people who are friendly.

  • By AP, August 20, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    I normally say thanks to bus drivers. Almost 90% of the time. The only times I don’t are when I forget (maybe I’m with a friend and talking with them or something), or when the bus driver is really rude or something. I usually even say it when the bus is late. I find that often when the bus is late, the driver is actually quite friendly.

  • By Ryan, August 20, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

    If I’m getting off the front door (which I often do on the local commuter buses), I always say thanks. I also say thanks when a driver sees me running to catch the bus and opens the doors he just closed so that I can get on and not have to wait.

  • By Donna (CMBC), August 20, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

    Heck, I even say thank you when getting on a bus most of the time. But, my mother drove for 20 years, so I’m more familiar than most with what an unrewarding job driving can be at times.

  • By ;-), August 20, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

    With the rush to get on and not wanting to disturb other passengers. I save my thanks by exiting the front door for special occassions.

    I do say thanks when drivers waiting for me coming out of Skytrain trying make a connection.

    Anyone give thanks like this fellow?

  • By Cliff, August 20, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    Pretty much always. Unless you’re exiting out the back doors on a busy bus, there’s always a ‘thank you’ from me. And it’s a must if you’ve asked for a request stop (particularly one on the side of a busy highway!).

    I’ve found that people tend to say thank you when exiting the bus from the rear door more often on suburban buses than on buses in Vancouver proper.

    Maybe it’s just me. Who knows?

  • By Kelly, August 21, 2011 @ 3:51 am

    You can do it in many ways. You can say “thanks” after the driver says thanks to your buss pass, or when you get off the bus. Would rather say it when you get on & say “Goodbye” (or at night time, say “Goodnight” if it’s the final destination of the day or the last bus of the night.) If it’s the final trip of the night or last bus trip & not doing another trip & heading to garage, you can also tell him to have a safe ride trip home.

  • By Kelly, August 21, 2011 @ 3:55 am

    Sorry what I ment to say was “thanks” when you get on the bus & “goodbye” when you get off. (Or “goodnight” if it’s night time.)

  • By Bobby, August 22, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    Being on the bus to and from school I find myself saying “thanks” to the bus driver. What I tend to see and hear is if the bus driver response back to the “thank you” it becomes contagious to other passengers. However I think its good karma for both parties

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, August 22, 2011 @ 1:34 pm


    That’s a good point about saying something than just “Thanks”. It’s interesting how some people always say “Thanks”, others say it when they think it can be heard or the bus driver cares to hear it and others say it only when they believe the service deserves it (kind of like tipping).

  • By zack, August 22, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

    If the driver has a positive attitude, or is helpful with directions I say “thanks”. But if the driver is rude or drives recklessly then I don’t bother.

  • By zack, August 22, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

    btw, I meant bus driver

  • By jordin, August 24, 2011 @ 9:33 am

    i say thanks most of the time. Drivers put up with a heckload of crap (even if not from you) and the least you can do is say thanks. the only times i don’t say thanks is if I’m on those double buses (480, 99) and there’s no way the driver could hear me just by distance from the doors. I also don’t say thanks to drivers who I feel were jerks including: not stopping/closing the door on runners, reckless/bad driving, or not showing courtesty to elderly. I’m sorry but those situations, a thank you would seem not heartfelt and pointless.

  • By Steven, August 25, 2011 @ 7:32 am

    I have heard a few people say this in Central London, admittedly not many, but more so in outlining rural areas, such as where my family live 20 miles east. I’ve heard this frequently in Paris, Brussels, Denver, New York and San Francisco. I don’t think this is a Vancouver phenomenon although it does happen more often here than anywhere else, in my experience anyway. I have to admit I do like how children get into the “thank you” thing more than some adults here.

  • By Sasha, August 25, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    I thank like i tip, If the driver did a good job he gets a thanks… if he did a poor job he doesn’t get anything

  • By Susan, August 25, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    I always look at the driver and say “thank you” when getting off the bus… along with “have a good day/afternoon/evening/weekend”. You never know what kind of day they may be having… I’ve had more than one driver look surprised and then smile and say “you too”. :)

  • By Alanna, August 25, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

    I said thank u to the drive when I got off the fron of the bus yesterday because the bus driver was so nice but I dot think I would scream of from the back of the bus

  • By bob, August 25, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    I only say thanks to the drivers on afternoon shift and graveyard shift.

  • By Johnny B, August 26, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    Seems like everyone is thanking bus drivers these days. They deserve it, getting us from A to B safely. Heck, I even heard a Transit Security Officer thanking the driver for his time after doing a fare check. We should also be thanking Transit Security as well, they keep us safe and make sure no freeloaders ride, when we have all paid. Thank you Transit Security!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, August 28, 2011 @ 7:02 am

    @ Johnny B

    I thank them all. I make an effort to thank the security guys and the cops, because they reduce fare evasion, just as you said. I totally agree with you. Thank you for bringing this up.

    Thank you everybody for preventing fare evasion.

    Thank you for not checking fares for all the times that I didn’t feel like paying, even though I won the $999,999,999,999 lottery! Just kidding, of course. :^D

  • By Ian G, August 29, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    Yes, I try to call it out from the rear door as well. This didn’t used to be as common (as confirmed by a couple of long-time bus operators), so it is interesting that this little bit of courtesy, as taken hold at a time when there seems to be some backsliding in other areas of general public etiquette, including some nasty physical assaults on transit employees.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, August 29, 2011 @ 7:06 pm


    I agree that thanking them wasn’t as popular. I remember trying to start that trend and it eventually got popular. I’m not so confident that it was me who really made the difference, though. :^D

    Just for kicks, I tried to start another trend: facing away from the street when I line up, so that I could watch people walk by. That will be a tough nut to crack, though. :^D


    When I said that I thank them all, I didn’t mean that I thank them when they are rude or bad at driving.

  • By Miguel, September 7, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

    They should thank the passengers. Just like any other business. I don’t thank the barista at Starbucks, he thanks me.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 11, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    @ Miguel

    I think that it is best for both parties to thank each other and for both to say, “You’re welcome.”, because the benefits are mutual and symbiotic.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, September 13, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    I just recalled 1 type of situation when I try to avoid thanking: when the driver smokes in the bus. That is truly unbelievable, but it happens.

  • By Mike, November 22, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

    Never. Why would I? I am a paying customer, they should be thanking me. I like how Translink is tying to place the onus on bus driver’s feeling appreciated when that is their responsiblity to ensure a content workforce. People forget that Translink is a private organization much like a Canadian bank. Do you thank your bank teller when they advise you there is a fee for a currency exchange or money order?

  • By Eugene Wong, January 15, 2012 @ 2:54 pm


    I wouldn’t thank them for the fee. I would thank them for the service, just like I would thank the post office for their service, after making me pay to send a parcel.

    1 person pays, but it is a mutual benefit.

  • By Steven, January 18, 2015 @ 8:30 am

    Caption under the smilling bus driver image reads, “Now that’s a happy driver… maybe somebody said, “thanks!”
    I think it is more likely the bus driver is smiling because she said thanks to her customer, the bus company customer!
    I suspect a large part of the problem of mean and hostile bus drivers stems from their failure to treat their customers – the people who purchase bus service, as customers. At work, I thank customers for calling, I thank customers for their purchase, I thank customers for being loyal customers, and so on. On the many public transit rides I have bought, I have never heard a bus driver thank a customer, and no bus driver has ever thanked me for being a customer.

    Instead, they are thanked, but they do not thank their customers. Strange, isn’t it? I recommend transit companies instruct and demand that the people they hire to drive buses THANK the CUSTOMERS. I do not know of any other industry where customers are not routinely thanked for doing business with the company!

  • By Eugene Wong, January 22, 2015 @ 10:56 pm

    @ Steven

    There are a lot of comments, and I’m kind of too busy to read them. However, I want to chime in, just in case it hasn’t been mentioned: many bus drivers do say thanks. It might hard to hear them at times, and their thanks might blend into the background white noise, but it’s there.

  • By Jonathan Neufeld, November 9, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

    While showing heartfelt appreciation is admirable, there is an inescapable ethical problem with thanking someone for doing their job. It implies that they had the option of not doing their job and undermines the driver as a potentially irresponsible person.

  • By Ashveen, March 28, 2018 @ 7:57 am

    I always say thank you after exiting. Makes the day go by nicer.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The results of the August “Do you say ‘Thanks’ to bus drivers?” poll — September 12, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Friday Fun Poll: How do you spend most of your time on transit? — September 23, 2011 @ 9:03 am

  3. The Buzzer blog » The results of the September “How do you spend most of your time on transit?” poll — October 4, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  4. The Buzzer blog » The October 2011 Buzzer and Chanda Stallman: Buzzer illustrator interview — October 7, 2011 @ 9:51 am

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