Created | Updated Jan 28, 2002
If you visit any major city, you are likely to come into contact with the miracle that is Public Transport. How you go about this and on which form of transport you choose to travel does not really matter as, essentially, the same three main features to look out for:
Smells of some form. Usually of takeaway food, or something even more suspicious. Just check where you're sitting and it's probably best not to wear open-toed sandals.
Particularly in metropolitan areas, there may be a person of insane bearing present ranging from an old lady mumbling to herself, to an absolute nutter who insists on talking to the non-existent person sitting next to him as if they were on the other end of a really bad telephone line.
Seating etiquette. Sitting is occasionally optional, sometimes necessary and indeed at other times frowned upon. Usually by those people who are forced to stand. Seating is usually arranged in pairs, and if you sit down and have a spare seat next to you a fellow passenger will willingly take it and attempt to force you through the outer wall of the transport with a combination of their own body weight and the force of a rucksack and 25 bags of shopping they are lugging around with them.
Do not however, let any of this put you off. Okay, it gets particularly crowded during rush hour and much of it is tatty, but public transport is useful, especially if you don't have a car, you can't be bothered to walk or if you work somewhere where the likelihood of finding a parking space is an impossibility.
It can also take you vast distances. Much to the delight of people who like to travel across major continents, but would like to see a bit of the world and haven't got enough money for airplane fares. This kind of long distance, world-wide journeying, which relies upon methods of getting about as the locals do, will bring travellers into contact with some alternative aspects of public transport, which change according to where you are, including:
- Extremes of cleanliness and dirtiness
- Expensive fares
- Cheap fares
- Some of the best and worst food known to man
- Real air conditioning, if you're lucky. Otherwise a lack of glass in the windows will do
- Steam power
- Wooden seats
- Rooftop views
However, some public transport users like to keep it less international. In fact, local public transport can inspire great enthusiasm. Some people love it so much that they spend weekends writing down the numbers of trains or buses, so they won't forget them...