Monday, March 17, 2008

101 ways to guarantee a seat on a train or bus part 1

I know that train/bus travel here in the UK has nothing on its Asian or African equivalents, where you'd (if we're generalising) have to share your seat with several other people, a chicken or two and maybe a goat. But at busy times, UK public transport comes close! Buses, tubes and trains in rush hour carry far more people than there are seats so a strategy for guaranteeing a seat is definitely called for.

1. Eat smelly food
I tried this method on Friday, on a particularly full train from Euston to Coventry. Having visited Burger King before the train platform was announced, I was waiting at the gate when it was called to join the crowd of people running past the seemingly endless first-class carriages to the pleb-class at the far end of the platform. I used the last possible door and managed to get an unreserved seat, where I settled in to eat my burger. It worked for a while - several people came down the carriage looking for a seat but moved on rather than sit next to me and smell my lunch. So far so good. Eventually the train was so full that passengers couldn't afford to be so picky and a woman sat down next to me, angling herself away from me so as not to have to watch me eat, or smell my burger. Method 1 partially successful!

2. Sit next to a "reserved" seat
I don't really understand the system but Virgin trains have a digital display over each seat telling you whether they are reserved or not. Generally, people avoid the reserved seats and join the fight for the unreserved. The thing is though, so often the owners of these "reserved" seats fail to show up and the seats stay empty for the journey. So, on Saturday, I found myself a "reserved" seat and sat down with confidence - it's all about the confidence. The seat next to it was also claiming to be reserved so I figured I'd have some space to relax and enjoy my journey. It worked for the first leg of the journey until a lad got on at Rugby and asked if the seat was taken. It didn't appear to be so I said no and he sat down, elbow firmly protruding over the arm rest into my space. Pah! Method 2 less successful - it seems I'm not the only chancer on the train.

3. Cry
No-one wants to sit next to the weirdo, right? Get yourself on the bus, find a seat, think about whatever it is that's on your mind and let those emotions flow! I tried this method on the way home one night last week. Got lots of funny looks but no-one wanted to sit next to me! (And no, I'm not so mercenary that I was crying simply to get a good seat, but it was an added benefit!) Method 3 successful!

So, 3 down, 98 to go - any suggestions?


  1. Erm: I feel I should be the first to suggest the dark rucksack and nervous watching clock, a few loose wires!

    Carrying a beanbag square worked once!

    Read a VERY LARGE Bible!

    Talk loudly on the phone about your rash!

    Cover an innocent novel with something saying "How to Meet a Lover on A Train" and eye up anyone who gets on! (hmm may backfire!)

  2. Brilliant.

    How about furiously scratching yourself all over while muttering audibly about conspiricies and nanobots and night-time abductions with bright lights.



Sometimes I do go on...