Etiquette Inbox: Front seats for riders with kids?

Photo by yifany

Nick at Buboblog asks, among other things:

Should small children get dibs on the front seats? And if so, how do they fit into the hierarchy? For instance, do they trump a fairly spry 70-year-old?

If we know you, you’ve got an opinion on this. Weigh in, please, by all means.

Read more on Buboblog.


  • AlexJB

    I would never give up my seat for a kid; they’ve got more energy than I do!

    Unless they’re too small to walk, which is a whole other story.

    I can understand that they’re easier to control when seated, but I definitely don’t think they deserve preference over someone who might get tired just walking to the dang bus stop.

  • Sus

    If they’re tall enough to hold the vertical pole, no.

    Now, if it’s a really crowded bus and it’s between a spry 70yr old vs. a kid barely tall enough to hold the pole and easily lost in the shuffle, I can see allowing the kid to sit in the next freed seat, though ideally not right at the front (in case a not-so-spry 70yr old pops on). Once it’s not a problem for the kid to hold on though, I’ll take the seat if I’m closer.

    If the kid is really young and particularly squirrely, it’s fine, space permitting – however, seniors or persons with disabilities take precedence.

  • Amy

    Kids big enough to hold the pole and keep their balance can wait until all the frail and disabled get a seat. I remember being a kid on MUNI and I LOVED standing. I pretended like I was surfing.

  • Ok, the order in my world:
    Frail senior and disabled
    Obviously Pregnant
    People with infants
    Spry seniors

  • Beth W.

    I often sit in the front seats, but I’m with my toddler in a carrier — the two of us are just too wobbly together to stand up on crowded buses. On the plus side, we only take up one seat.

  • Fannie

    Depends on the age of the child. Some children are completely incapable of keeping their balance or understanding the concept of holding onto the rails on the bus/train.

    Also, some kids will throw tantrums if they’re forced to stand (but that’s the fault of the parent(s)).

    I will get up for a parent and their child if they’re under the age of 5, (which leads to the next issue, not all people can tell how old a child is or isn’t.)

    Although, let’s face it–some kids seriously behave better if they’re sitting down, instead of standing up and/or running around on the moving bus/train.

    Adult supervision makes a huge difference, generally. The buses that I’ve been on, with children under the age of 10, and without any adult supervision have usually been nightmarish, including three kids throwing lit cherry bombs out of the rear windows.

  • I have to say that I find little kids on Muni to be generally well-behaved (maybe because the buses are so packed that they don’t have any room to run around and wreak havoc), and I completely agree with Amy that kids seem to prefer to stand. I usually see parents trying to force their kid in a seat when the kid wants to stand. Let ’em stand.

    After the elderly and disabled, I try to give my seat to people with lots to carry–people who’ve just done their shopping, or have a lot of luggage. It sucks to have a lot of shit weighing you down on Muni. It’s nice when someone recognizes that and offers you a seat.

  • SFNanny

    I ride the bus almost everyday with 2 kids, ages 3 and 6 months. I wear the baby and it is safer siting. With the 3 year old, he gets distracted and would go flying if he wasn’t seated.

    The seats are meant for those who have a hard time standing, regardless of age. Some kids may have lots of energy but that doesn’t mean they can stand still and balance at the same time. It’s developmental, and we all develop at different rates.

    I’ve had scary experiences with the toddler, not being able to have a seat. One hand holding his, one hand balancing myself, people pushing, the bus jolting.

    If a person needs help, they need help. And it’s not always easy to judge who that person may be.

  • Little kids, like old people, should get the seats before well, able=bodied youngsters and adults take the seat, or stay in the seat, which seems to happen most often. It seems as if the person sitting thinks it’s their God=given right to have that seat.

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