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Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Getting On:

Think Soup Nazi, don't waste other people's time (both that of those in line and in the bus driver's seat) by scrounging for your cash/bus pass. Have it ready, or stand far enough away that you can scrounge without bothering others.

If you're really cheap, you can use a tactic my mother employed once in the good old days, take a transfer (those paper dealys they hand out with a timestamp) and flash it at drivers even after it has expired. Usually they'll either not notice or not care and let you on, if they do notice and care, the worst that happens is you have to pay regular fare.

Choosing a Seat:

With public transporation it's all about avoiding the freaks. To do this, take seats next to people you won't mind sitting next to. Befriending someone on your route is a great way to stay safe, or, you can be sneaky. Befriend your backpack/suitcase, prop it up next to you; conversation with it is not necessary, but certainly helps keep others away. Prop your feet up and sleep (or pretend to sleep while listening to music) on a two-seater bench for near-gauranteed immunity from having to sit next to anyone. You can also be aggressive. Sit right next to someone who looks timid and has available space to scrunch. Intimidate them into their scrunch zone and then sprawl on your freshly conquered territory. (Note: this will make you unpopular).

As people board, you may lose your buffer of people you don't mind sitting next to. Learn who these people are and avoid them in preference of those who leave after you get off. You can also try fighting fire with fire, dress and/or act like a freak yourself. This will scare others away and give you free reign, sadly, it may also attract freaks to your presence. Use caution.

The Bus Driver:
Bus drivers range from the veteran nice dudes to Bus Nazis. The nice kind will pick you up if you chase after the bus, let you off in more convenient places, and even announce stops over the intercom if they spot you dozing off. The Bus Nazis will not do any of these things, they will also tend to demand exact change only even if you're near-broke and you need to get home desperately.

If you converse with your driver by sitting in the front row, you can scope out what kind you have. If he's a Nazi, all is lost. Only time will either get them fired or mold them into a nice driver. You can try social engineering on them nonetheless but it's usually a fruitless effort. If you have a nice driver, talking them will get them to be extra nice to you. Sometimes after talking to a nice driver for awhile they'll regularly stop at where you prefer to get off and other such neat stuff. I had one nice driver give me free rides after he learned that I had been paying an extra 25 cents by accident for the past few months.

Sleep:

The true mark of a veteran bus rider is if they have the courage to sleep on the bus. If you have a Bus Nazi the only possible way to pull this off and not miss your stop is if you learn to time your route, if you have a nice bus driver he'll usually wake you up with the intercom when you arrive at your stop. Again, find out what kind you have before attempting this. How long you stay on your route is also of obvious importance, in my cae, my route is about 20 minutes long, and I don't sleep, per se, but I do relax, rest and am generally not fully concious for the duration of the trip.

Getting Off:

I find the most effective method of departure is to stand up, put one foot foreward (but not on the ground) and wait for the bus' weight to catch up with it. When it does, you'll fly to the front -- or into the back of somebody if you're not looking, be careful. Thank the bus driver and step out. Congratulations! You now know How to ride a bus.

All good advise above. Here's some more.

If there is a bench at the bus stop, and you are sitting on it, watch for the bus. When the bus is approaching you, GET UP. Don't wait for it to stop before you get up. If you do, the driver might just pass you up, thinking you are just resting, and don't really want the bus.

If you are new to the bus system or area and not sure, ask the bus driver for directions. Don't just ask how to get to another bus, tell him where you are trying to go. The driver might be able to suggest a better way, or help you find your target stop. Even a "bus nazi" is suppose to help passengers.

Truly mean, rude, or inconsiderate drivers will eventually get fired. Part of the driver's job is to help you get where you need to be. This doesn't necessarily mean reading you the schedule, however, but it would include at least hinting at where you could find a schedule, or suggesting a connecting bus or transfer point. Part of the driver training for most bus companies includes familiarization with the routes, especially ones that connect to the drivers' regular routes. (This may be different, depending on the number of routes involved.)

However, please try to get help from the driver long before you need to get off. Standing in the open doorway asking questions just before you get off annoys the other passengers who are trying to make connections or get home or whatever, and annoys even the nicest of drivers (although they might not tell you), especially when they are already late. (Why do people persist in waiting until last minute before asking for help!!?!)

As to sleeping on the bus...my ride is a 20 minute ride as well, but I frequently sleep, although usually not intentionally. Since early childhood, I've had trouble keeping awake in a moving vehicle (unless, of course, I'm driving it), but I always wake up when it stops. One bus route makes a turn at a stop light just before my stop, so this is perfect. However, I've been saved more than once by the veteran driver just stopping at my stop (that tends to wake me up too), even though I had not been awake to ring the bell.

I've hit a few strict bus drivers, but most of them are also nice veteran drivers. They just get mean when you do stupid wrong stuff, most especially when they recognize you as a regular passenger who should know better.

However, I did have to deal with a truly bad driver once. For some reason, I found I needed to catch the first bus of the day to make it on time. This incompetent rookie driver decided that since it was dark and of course nobody ever took the first bus, he could speed down a 40mph street at 60mph 15-30 minutes earlier than the schedule just so he could get an extra long break at the end of the run. He passed me more than once, waving a flashlight madly trying to get his attention. He passed me more times while I was not yet up to the stop, 10 minutes earlier than he had been the previous day. Every time he passed me, I called in and complained. I overheard another driver say something about a supervisor following him in a car for several days, calling him on his radio every time he sped or passed a time point early. I don't think he made it through the probationary period.

When you are waiting at the bus stop, you should wave to the bus driver to indicate whether or not his is the bus you want. The proper wave to use depends on where in the world you are. In the US, the "negative" wave (e.g., you don't want this bus) consists of holding your hand out at waist level, palm-down, and moving it back and forth in a right-to-left motion. The "affirmative" wave (you want this bus) is essentially the same as that used to hail a taxi: finger pointed to the sky in the general direction of the bus. In London, you indicate you want the bus by pointing your finger straight out towards the street.

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