March 05, 2011

That Elusive (Bus) Seat

I am a daily user of public transport (which is a classier way of saying that I travel by buses daily). And usually it involves long journeys (>=40 mins). This of course demands a seat to sit, otherwise one ends up draining all the energy in travelling only. Now I am not the only daily long traveler, there are many others like me, which means everybody wants seat. But like all good things in life, they are limited. And from here starts the competition to grab that elusive seat...

One of my long standing dreams is to get reservation somewhere, anywhere. Unfortunately even inside buses, I am out of luck. I don't qualify for ladies seats (unless I go for sex change... no thanks), conductor seat (I am eligible, but I think my career aspirations are a bit higher), senior citizen (not getting that for next 35 years or so), physically handicapped (I am more of artistically handicapped). So, almost the one row of seats (the left side) is not meant for me. Now, damn the skewed sex ratio that there are usually a lot of contenders for the other row of the seats.

Tactics to get seat

1. Early bird: I make it a point to travel in the opposite direction for some distance to get the bus from the point of origin in order to maximise my chances (if not confirm) of getting a seat. This can also cause a loss of some vital minutes and may result in not getting a seat in class room, but who cares until I have an exam that day.

2. Odd timing: It also helps to travel at odd timings, like very early in the morning or during afternoon, but then it depends on my schedule too.

3. Use alternative bus services: In short use, Bluelines instead of DTC. Since the DTC service has started to become regular and frequent people prefer it over Bluelines. So if you choose to travel in Blueline you almost double your chances of getting a seat. Alas, Bluelines will be a thing of past in near future, so this strategy is bound to become dormant. (Read more about Bluelines, in my previous post Bluelines. Please don't go. Please.. )

And when all above tactics fail, then comes the survival instincts:

4. Use Stats (Or common sense): People don't prefer to travel at the back of the bus, so there will be less competition in that area. Also travelling at the back of the bus has the advantage that you don't get into stampede in the middle of the bus (when other passengers try to reach the front or back gate). But I have also observed that people at the back seat generally are long distance travellers so you will have to 'ride on your luck' if you choose to be a back bencher :) How do I choose? Well it depends on the situation, but generally I go in the middle or front of Bluelines/old DTC buses and backside of new DTC buses.

5. Other strategies: I am not really a fan of these methods but I have learnt these tricks of trade over the years from fellow bus travellers (thank you all 'pushy' uncles and aunties, out there in the buses). Remember there is no room for a person in the buses, so don't expect room for courtesy. 
a) One effective method is to use the handles of consecutive seats as support. This almost negates the chances of anyone else getting an opportunity for the seat.

b) Also keep an eye on the amount fellow travellers are giving for the ticket. This helps in deciding which seat I am contesting for. 

c) Lastly decide which of the 2 seats on a single bench you want. If I want a window seat, I stand at the first half of the side; if I am hopeful of getting a passenger side seat, I stand to occupy the second half.

d) Regarding grabbing seats also, I make it a point to be clear in mind; if I am really going for the seat or not. Because once the sitting-passenger gets up, we have a fraction of a second to claim the seat otherwise it is gone. If I think I have less than half a chance, then I don't even try. Otherwise, bag always come in handy in claiming the seat! But sometimes, "for a change" I just let the seat go to a fellow passenger even when I have a chance.

And I have also made some ground rules:
1. If I don't have a seat:

        Never compete for a seat with an aged person, a female, a kid, a physically unfit person, or someone who looks to be in more need of the seat.

2. If I have a seat, I give my seat promptly if:
       2.1. a lady comes and stands beside me, but not to a girl (they are equals plus they have got reservation, so NO please). Except:
                2.1.1 If I like her, I may ask if she wants the seat :)
        2.2. a person is travelling with a baby.
        2.3. anyone reminds me of somebody I know/knew.
      2.4. anyone takes the courage to ask for the seat. In this case the age, sex, physique of the requester doesn't matter.

All above scenarios are of course valid under the assumption that I don't need the seat more than them.

So, that is it. You know travelling in Delhi buses is nothing less than a fight for survival. So, one must be fully prepared to tackle the wave. Wish Delhi Govt. could do more to easy the apathy of the bus travelers.

I believe I am good at heart, so I try to behave humbly but I also don't want to be taken for granted. I am not saint either.