We bus users can be an inconsiderate bunch. Something about being crammed in a tight space with strangers brings out the worst in us. It turns otherwise upstanding citizens into the most intolerant creatures. Those we’d normally take extra care to protect, such as babies, seniors and the disabled, suddenly take the brunt of our irritability.

In rush hour, harassed commuters make all the excuses. They’ve not had their morning coffee. They have a meeting to make. But there’s no justification for so-called “bus rage” against those who cause just a minor inconvenience. Just look at it from the other side.

I’ve seen remarkable levels of inconsideration on OC Transpo buses. The classic case is when people don’t stand up to let seniors sit down.

But there are other examples. When the bus is full, it’s difficult for parents with strollers, or people in wheelchairs, to get to the front to disembark. Yet it usually takes an intervention, often from a conscientious passenger rather than the bus driver, to marshal everyone and rectify the situation. It’s as if, should someone get off the bus to make it easier for a wheelchair or a stroller to pass by, the bus will drive away while they’re standing on the pavement.

Public transit is just that — public. It’s there for us all to use, whether we’re a federal civil servant or work in a fast food joint.

Public transit is never going to be an enjoyable experience. But it does force us to think and act collectively. It’s up to us to make sure it is the least uncomfortable it possibly can be.

– John Holmes is a writer for various publications in Canada and the U.K. He’s never had a driver’s licence, and has relied on public transit all his adult life; ottawaletters@metronews.ca