A student smiling while riding the bus and ringing the stop buzzer
August 11, 2023
3 mins read

A commuter's guide to not hating bus rides

The UBC Life Commuter Guide

Imagine. You’re nodding off while standing on a crowded bus while simultaneously worrying that you’ll be late to your class, when you’re suddenly woken up by a piercing noise through the speakers: “Please move to the back of the bus!”

Not fun.

Luckily, as a girl who commutes 5 days a week and runs for her bus too often, I’ve picked up some hacks to make bussing a li’l less stressful.

How to stop missing the bus and being late to everything

I used to live right across the street from my high school. So, when I started studying at UBC, I had some trouble getting to class. And I know what it’s like to see your bus pass you while you glare at the traffic lights that never change in your favour.

Tip #1: Download the Transit app.

This game-changer gives updates on bus times from your current location and details on when you’ll arrive at your destination.

Bonus: You don’t need Wi-Fi! Now I know when to make my way to my stop and can avoid waiting 15 minutes when I get there.

Tip #2: Assume the bus will arrive early.

The app says the bus will arrive at 8:30, so you get to the stop at 8:29...but the bus has already left without you.

I usually arrive at the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus departure time to avoid missing it. A frequent bus is less worrisome—but if the next one doesn’t come for 20 minutes, you really don’t want to be late!

Tip #3: Run.

Sometimes, you just have to run for it. (But please be careful, don’t run red lights, and look both ways before crossing the street. Oh, and help that senior cross while you’re at it, too, duh.)

A student sitting on the bus near a window

How to get that perfect seat

I live so far East that I catch the 99 at its first stop and always snag a seat. But if you’re not that lucky, check out these tricks:

Tip #1: Wait for the next bus.

You’re at the bus’s starting point, like Commercial Drive or the UBC Loop, and it’s filling up. If the next one comes soon and you’re not in a rush, let people pass you in line. When the next bus comes, you’ll be in front.

Now you can call dibs on that window seat with the heaters by the feet!

Tip #2: Go to the previous bus stop.

I feel bad for the people at Clark Drive who barely squeeze on the bus. But Commercial-Broadway, where the 99 route starts, is only a few blocks away!

If your commute is long, it might be worth it to wake up a tad earlier and make the trip to the previous stop.

Tip #3: Pick your standing location strategically.

If you’re standing on a full bus, move to the back! Most seats are there—this increases your chance of snagging one when someone gets off.

Or, take a gamble and stand close to someone who doesn’t look like a UBC student. They’ll likely be getting off at an earlier stop...and you will be the heir to their throne.

A student standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus while staring off into the distance

How to not get angry glares on the bus

You know what I’m talking about. There are certain people on bus rides that seemingly exist to make everyone else’s ride miserable. Make sure it’s not you.

Tip #1: Move away from the door.

One of the worst things you can do is stand too close to the door, making the bell ring multiple times until the bus driver has to literally tell you over the speaker to move away.

Be mindful of where you’re standing—don’t chill on the yellow square.

Tip #2: Take off your bag.

Seriously, just do it. We know you love your textbooks and endless math notes and want to keep them close to your heart, but everyone else could use some extra space.

Put it by your feet, or on your lap if you’re sitting!

Tip #3: Be polite and appreciative!

As much as you might dislike bus rides, we should be grateful for this affordable, sustainable, and convenient means of transportation! Spread positivity, not negativity.

If you notice a senior or someone with a disability in need of a seat, offer them yours. When boarding a bus, let the passengers get off first. And when you step off, give the hardworking bus driver a sincere and jolly “thank you!”

Bus rides don’t have to be a headache. Get out there and show ‘em who’s boss.

See you at the back of the bus, commuters.