Why have the Train and Bus Rider Numbers Fallen Off? Try Shocking and Rude Behavior!

GETTING THERE FROM HERE-The behavior of some on Metro buses and trains, and indeed within Southern California transit agencies, has so disturbed some people who are shocked that there is rudeness on public transportation. This type of rudeness is not restricted to Metro and other SoCal transit agencies but is found throughout the country. 

Indeed, a quick internet search leads to pages of examples of rude behavior: 

Do I see rude behavior every day on every bus and train I use throughout Los Angeles? No, but as a regular transit rider since 1992, I have certainly seen somerude behavior, but if anything, it reflects an overall increase of rude behavior everywhere in society where the decrease of common courtesy is commonplace. 

What I do not understand is that there are those who are so affronted by seeing some rude behavior on transit that they equate that with every bus or train ride in Los Angeles. This is not true. 

I have seen rude behavior, and I have seen very decent behavior and good manners of people giving up their seats for senior citizens, or pregnant women, or mothers toting their babies and children. 

I see other transit riders help others on or off a bus if they are having difficulties.  

Transit riders say, “Excuse me,” as they squeeze by on crowded buses and trains. (Yes, despite the naysayers, buses and trains are crowded, many times very crowded.) Some see some rude behavior on transit and use that as a weak excuse to not ride buses or trains, and so stay cocooned in their cars, trucks and SUVs. But there is plenty of bad behavior on the roads, and it is far more dangerous than riding buses and trains. 

There is road rage, which can escalate to serious accidents, injuries and death.  

There are the sneaks who in a line of cars on a freeway transition road or left turn lane skip the line, drive to the top of the line and expect others to accept their bad behavior.  

I have been given the finger by other drivers for who knows what. This does not happen when riding buses and trains. 

There are rude drivers who illegally use handicap placards to take away handicapped parking from truly deserving handicapped drivers or get away with not paying parking meters on the streets.  

There is the bad behavior of those who leave a shopping cart in the only available parking spot forcing me to stop, park, get out of the car, move the shopping cart and then get back in the car to park. Does this stop me from driving? No. But I also continue to ride buses and trains. 

Away from driving there is very bad behavior at sports venues. Fights at professional sporting events are common. Worse yet are parents fighting each other at their children’s sporting events. This is beyond bad behavior and setting the wrong examples for youth. But does this stop people from signing up their children to participate in sports programs and attending the games? 

There are fights at ‘Chuck e Cheese’ restaurants where kids are supposed to be the ones having a good time. An ultimate in bad behavior. 

Then there is rude behavior on airlines

There are fights on airlines as well. But these incidents take place at tens-of-thousands of feet in the air and are extremely dangerous. Some won’t ride mass transit because of incidents of rude behavior, yet they continue to travel by jet airliners despite the rude behavior and fights. 

Perhaps I've become calloused and jaded over the years and miles of riding transit, but I don’t see all the rude behavior that may exist when I ride the countless buses and trains I use to traverse the city.I will never let rude behavior stop me from taking transit because it does not occur all the time.  

Besides avoiding the grinding-toll of driving in gridlock, I ride transit because I dare to call myself an environmentalist. With the Trump administration bent on destroying environmental safeguards for air, land and water, and with the president calling the growing threat of global warming from man-made carbon gases a “hoax,” I must adjust my lifestyle and ride mass transit as much as possible.  

Some rude behavior every now and then on a bus or train is a very small price to pay for protecting the planet.


(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.