As I’m using public transportation more and more in Germany, I’ve decided to trying to write more about it. Hopefully these sections are fairly practical for any readers hoping to use this wonderful service (when they aren’t striking…)
Today I wanted to tackle public transportation etiquette – or at least three tips that I can think of right now.
1. Be prepared before you arrive. Like I said in my previous post about public transportation, if you are late, there will be someone who doesn’t know what they are doing using the ticket machine in front of you. The converse of this is that, if you are at the ticket machine with no idea what to do, there will be someone late waiting on you.
The best way to combat this is to know exactly what you need before you arrive. You can plan your route on Deutsche Bahn’s website and it will tell you the name of the ticket you need and how much it costs. This will speed along the process. There will still be a bit of a learning curve with the machine itself, but if you give yourself a bit of extra time everything should be fine.
Also someone who looks like they know what they’re looking for is much less annoying than someone staring blankly at the screen. And English is available – just look for the British flag.
2. Find a proper seat.
Most of the regional trains (my specialty) have most of their seats set up in groups of four.
It is totally fine to sit here alone. Single travelers will grab these sections and then as the train fills, other single travelers or couples will then sit in the row across from them. When two single travellers share one of these sections they generally sit diagonal from each other – as it allows for maximum leg space. Your bag can go onto the seat next to you to deter creepers ignoring the sit across rule, but you should move it to your lap or to the overhead rack if seating becomes scarce.
Seats with two spots follow a similar pattern. Sit near the window if alone and don’t sit next to someone if there are other seats available.
There is also commonly a section with fold down seats.
These seats suck, so they usually fill up last. They are meant for travellers with bikes, strollers, or wheelchairs (under the seats are some straps that can be used to secure things, but I have yet to see someone use them). If someone with one of those three things comes toward those seats, make room for them.
On crowded trains, you may need to stand. That’s life. If you cannot stand for whatever reason, there should be seats near the door indicated for this purpose. If people are seated there, ask politely if you can sit. If they don’t need the spot, they are supposed to give it up.
3. Don’t block the doors
This is a should, but not always a reality. If you do this, you will be making the world a better place.
Let people off the train first. The train cannot leave if the doors are open. You will not get anywhere faster by pushing past people trying to get off.
If the train is crowded and you are standing in the doorway and cannot move back to allow others off and on get off the train. Again, it will not leave while the doors are open. Get off with the people leaving and get back on with the people boarding. Easy peasy.
For the most part, the train experience runs fairly smoothly (when the trains and run – looking at you, Bahnstreik). Just be polite and self-aware, and things are better for everyone.