Courtesy Seats

At the front of the public buses here in Ottawa and in many cities, there is an area of seating designated as courtesy, co-operative, or priority seating. The idea is that if someone who cannot stand in a moving vehicle boards the bus, they have a place near the door to take a seat. Typically, the area is marked with decals on the windows above the designated seats and the decals have illustrations that vary, city-to-city, but can represent wheelchairs, pregnant women, people with strollers, and people with mobility aids.

I’ve always avoided sitting in this area because I’m able-bodied and can easily move towards the back of the bus, even while the vehicle is moving. However, I’ve made an observation that really irks me…and apparently it irks a lot of other people too!

Now, I’m not one to judge whether someone is able-bodied or not. There are invisible issues that some people face and I’m very cognizant of this. For this reason, I won’t ask anyone in particular to move out of their seat. I expect that etiquette will take care of this. BUT I have noticed so many people acting oblivious to the older gentleman who boards the bus with his walker or the toddler who comes on with their guardian. I’ve seen people sitting in the designated area who are engrossed by their phone and never look up, people who all of a sudden become super occupied by their phone once they notice someone who should occupy a designated seat board the bus, and people who just don’t get up to offer their seat. Sometimes people don’t even move for a wheelchair. Until the bus driver requests that space be made for a wheelchair, at which point, sometimes it becomes a staring contest between the people occupying the two bench seating areas, one across from the other, that can be converted to a wheelchair seating area: Who will move first!

Perhaps some people are utterly oblivious…but some people just don’t seem to care! Siiiiiiigh.


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