All buses, trains and trams are free in Luxembourg starting today, 1 March 2020! As far as I know, it is the only country in the world that has free public transport. It has slightly over 600,000 inhabitants in an area of 2,586 square kilometres. However, about 200,000 people living in France, Belgium and Germany cross the borders every day to work there; and I am one of them.
While the Luxembourgish government saves on the collection of fares and the policing of valid tickets, I have extra euros in my pocket (I only have to pay up to the border as required by the French government). Hat’s off to those who contributed to such environmentally-friendly decision (less private vehicles on the road). Of course, there are nayers to free public transport, and their reasons include the possibility of degradation of the property and condition of travelling due to rowdy people who are unlikely to be in paid transportation.
During the daily commute by bus from France to Luxembourg and back, it is always the same scenario. Some passengers who get into the bus first, occupy two seats: one for their body and the other for their belongings (e.g., bags, coats, etc.). In the beginning, I thought it was fun observing people walking up and down the aisles trying to find friendly faces to ask for seats. These days, I find this annoying and believe that if passengers want to occupy two seats, they should pay for two tickets and put a note on an unoccupied one with something like “I’ve paid for this seat because I can’t be bothered by your smell, telephone conversations, or light/image from your online activity,” or simply “I don’t like being close with another human being”.
This morning, I took a double-decker bus and decided to be on the second level. I had my work and lunch bags and jacket on a vacant seat next to the one I was occupying. There were three stops before I got off, so there were several people going up and down eyeing for seats. As usual, when new passengers came in, I transferred my belongings to my lap. It was only 7:30 AM, so the bus was not crowded and there two seats per person for the majority of us. As expected, I had to carry a load of computer, books and lunch bag on my lap for more than one hour. Why did I have that discomfort and inconvenience when the women in front, behind and to my right had their small shoulder bags neatly rested on the vacant seats. Honestly, I was hoping no one would see the empty seat next to me. Why did I take my things away, which was surely interpreted as an invitation to sit? I also prefer to have two seats, like other passengers; however, my sense of courtesy and empathy are ahead of it.
Meanwhile, one of my fellow female passengers has become a friend. After saying “merci” (thank you in French), she added that the others pretended she was invisible and was pleased when she saw me smiling, as she knew instantly that she did not have to “beg” for a seat. Last December, she came to our house with her 17-year-old son for tea, and we enjoyed eating the home-made “Bredele au beurre” Christmas biscuits they brought.
Two of DH News Vancouver’s (Canada) 25 Public Transit Etiquettes (https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/the-top-20-public-transit-etiquette-rules-you-should-know-and-follow) are: “8. One seat per person is common etiquette, especially during peak hours and when the seats inside the vehicle are almost completely occupied; 9. Seats are for your bottoms only: keep your dirty shoes away from the seats – do not rest your feet on a seat.” We should have these etiquettes written on all public transports.