Do people offer you a seat on public transport? How do you feel about it? 110

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Travelling on public transport can be a pain, but it’s something you’ve just got to do from time to time or – if you are still working – five days a week to get to and from work.

It is usually time-consuming too, stealing valuable time from our lives we’d prefer to spend with our families.

In fact, not having to do the daily commute is one of the things people look forward to the most when it comes to the time to pull the plug on full-time work.

Each form of public transport comes with its own sort of protocol, too. You don’t sit down close to someone if there is option, for example. You don’t make noise in “quiet” carriages.

But there’s also another one: stand up for seniors, pregnant women and those less able than yourself.

And the other day, someone did it for me, not once but three times. The people who offered were all totally different: a man of about 50, a father with young children and a woman about 30.

It was the first time I had commuted on public transport for many years and I was nonplused when it first happened.

“Who, me?” I thought, looking around. “Why is he/she offering me a seat?”

Then it suddenly dawned on me. At almost 60, I qualified for “senior” status.

I felt happy but sad at the same time. The politeness of the other travellers reinforced my faith in human nature and showed that common courtesy was alive and well. But the fact that “young me” was old enough to justify it made me sad.

I cheered myself up by telling myself that it was probably because I was a woman they did it. I ignored the little voice inside my head that pointed out one of the people who had offered me a seat was a woman too.

And, when all is said and done, there’s one huge plus to the senior status: you can enjoy sitting down!

Let’s talk: What is your experience as a baby boomer on public transport? Do people offer  you a seat? If so do you think it’s because of your age – or your sex?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I catch a bus 5 days a week for work and am in the difficult situation of looking fit and well but having musculoskeletal issues that make it impossible to stand up on a bus. I am also tall, so only fit in the disabled seats. I would love people to offer me a seat. As it is I have had to become quite assertive about asking people if they actually need the disabled seat, because I do. I suppose it’s character building…

  2. I am travelling overseas at the moment. I must admit I have been very grateful when offered a seat. I particularly noticed this in Portugal where I was offered a seat by a young person on several occasions, as were other older travellers. After 6 months of being a “tourist” my body is beginning to feel the strain, much as I hate to admit it!

  3. You take your chances travelling on public transport .. To be offered a seat is a privilege and not a right… Everyone pays the same fare and may have further to travel than you do .. Some may have an unseen disability also and many are just as tired at the end of a busy day .. Just be grateful if offered a seat or stand in silence !!

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  4. I can remember traveling from the northern beaches in Sydney to the city via bus and ferry, 7 months pregnant, standing on the bus then a crowded ferry, not one person offered me a seat. Other passengers looked at me knowing I was pregnant, but looked away when I turned around looking for a seat…eventually a woman of aprox 50 offered me her seat, I was greatful and thanked her….then had to almost crawl under that seat as she lectured the ferry passengers about manners and pregnant women and aged persons. The trip home had further interesting events, as not one but 4 people offered to find me a seat, you see they also travelled to the city that morning on the same ferry, and were looking around for the lady that had made her not so pretty speach. I guess they were afraid of the possible consequences if I was left standing. I can laugh now, but I was not well at the time and found the whole trip very stressful.

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    • I at then 60 gave up my seat to a pregnant girl, who also had a child in tow because no one else offered., even young men… No one is taught manners or respect these days, its a Me Me Me all about me world I am afraid. So glad my childrenand grandchildren have respect, its so good to see.

  5. At this point in my life I am happy to stand because I can. I dont use public transport a lot but we have buses in Canberra that have designated seats for seniors. Dont know how that works during peak times though.

  6. We were taught at school to stand for the elderly, workers and pregnant women and Prefects were on every bus to enforce it. If you did not stand you were reported and made to do playground duty for a week. Today that is not being taught or enforced by schools or taught by parents and it has not been done so for generations

  7. They did in the fifties, sixties, seventies, less in the eighties, vary rare in the nineties, and the last 15 years it is every man for themselves. But then again, all we hear is equality. We can’t have it both ways. It is what we allow to happen. Me, well I love being in the company of those who were happy to pop a hand out or offer a seat.

  8. When I was in my thirties and catching buses to and from work I would stand for any elderly person. An elderly gentleman offered me his seat once but I thanked him and told him to sit.if any school kids were sitting and the bus was full the driver would tell the kids to stand and give their seats to older ppl. Don’t know about today haven’t been n a bus for some years.

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