So, what is the best seat on the bus?

seat drain
Photo by Genista

Michelle Olson is a journalism student at SFSU. She set out to find opinions on where to sit on Muni. Here’s what she found.

Seating on the bus is serious business, no matter how short your ride is. Just the other day, a rider said on Twitter that they saw a woman throw her purse over to the handicapped row just to save a seat before she paid her fare. Really? So one afternoon, I boarded the 14-Mission bus by the Ferry Building to find out what people think is the most coveted seat on the bus.

I traveled with many other passengers down Mission Street to Daly City, and then back again. On the way there, I traveled in a single-car bus, and it was clear that there was one seat that was always taken, even when the bus wasn’t full. It was the front-facing seats with their back to the back doors, the only ones like it on the bus. I was going to call this seat The Popular Seat, but then I found out it was Scott’s favorite seat too. Scott is a rider who prefers to sit there, and he said he called it “My Seat.” He likes that less people crowd around the seat, and enjoys the added leg room, plus it’s facing forward. For now, let’s say this is Scott’s Seat.

"Scott's Seat"
Photo by Michelle Olson

One thing I noticed is that people don’t like sitting in the seats that face backwards or that face each other. I call these seats The Social Network – you can get close, but not too close. Here a group of four could happily interact, but this didn’t seem like something Muni riders want to do because these seats were usually vacant even when the bus was full.

A woman named Marsha sat next to me in the back, one row back from right across the second set of doors. She likes to sit near the backdoor so she doesn’t disturb people when she’s getting off the bus. It’s a seat she calls The Edge.

When I got to the end of the line on Daly City, I met Maria at the bus stop. She prefers the front for its lack of people and noise. I call these seats the Library Seats. Shhhhh.. be quiet, you’re in the front of the bus.

On the way back, I was on an articulated bus, with its special seats in the the middle that I call I’m Not Here For The View.

"I'm Not Here For The View" Seats #2
Photo by Michelle Olson

Getting back on the bus, the single seats filled up first. You can only find these seats on articulated buses, and it is yet another sign that commuters don’t like to be social with strangers. Muni rider Miguel denies the anti-social implication of these seats, though. He said he sits there to leave the front seats for seniors and families. Plus, this seat allows him to look out the window and is close to the back door.

"It's Just Me" Seats
Photo by Michelle Olson

And you know those people who always go to the very back of the bus, no matter what? Van, a Muni rider, prefers those seats. He likes the view and the air circulation back there. He said he also prefers to leave the front seats for families and elderly people.

Followers of Muni Diaries on Twitter shared their feelings on where the best seats are on Muni trains and buses.

  • @cripsahoy “I get on the 2nd car inner handicapped seat. It’s nearest to the escalator.”
  • @WillieFDiazSF “The best seat is not any MUNI seat, its your own bicycle seat… it’s cleaner and faster.”
  • @suzdal “I love the window seat with the little divider thingy closest to the center doors. Easier to get to, often available.”
  • @SFcab271 “I like the rear of F line cars, with the big open windows. Great on a hot day, or to be a rebel and sneak a cig.”

While it may just be a tan plastic seat on the bus, it is a place where a rider will be spending time. So next time you board Muni, treat yourself to that window seat with extra leg room. Meals and peanuts might cost you extra, but the entertainment is free.

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