It’s a fact: There’s no better feeling than exploring a new city, but before you can fill your Snapchat story with pics of life abroad, you’ll have to navigate the dos and don’ts of your host country’s public transport system. To keep you in the good books of your fellow commuters, we’ve put together a handy guide to ensure those of you heading to the UK know how to bus like a boss (in other words, use public transportation without making a fool of yourself!).
Buy a ticket
You can purchase tickets on your smartphone, online, from a tourist information office or directly from the driver, depending on your destination. In London, it’s all connected to your Oyster card, which is an electronic ticket. Outside of the capital, it’s best to pre-purchase a pass that covers you for the duration of your stay. Make sure to have the pass on hand when boarding – you will need to swipe it against a card reader – having it ready will save you from a last-minute, panic-stricken scramble to locate it!
Have the right amount of cash
If you do pay the driver directly, it’s important to ensure you have roughly the right amount of cash before hopping on the bus. Paying with a note when the fare is just a couple of quid could delay the bus while the driver searches for the right change, which they may not always have. This also won’t make them particularly happy. Remember that in London you can’t pay the driver anymore, so make sure you have your Oyster card ready (and topped up) before you board (or that you have a paper Travelcard purchased for a ticketing machine).
Get the driver’s attention
Buses only stop at a station when a passenger presses the button to leave or someone is clearly waiting to board. To make sure the bus sees you waiting, simply hail it with a small wave – and remember to do it early enough.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it’s more than OK to have a few queries. No matter if you’re not sure what number bus to get on, what ticket you should purchase or which is your stop, local commuters, bus drivers and fellow students will be on hand to help. It’s the perfect opportunity to put your language skills into practice. Just remember to smile!
You’ll soon discover that queuing is practically a national sport in the UK – especially when waiting for a bus. To score extra brownie points with the locals, always, always, always let people off the bus first. Then, let elderly passengers and those who arrived before you filter onto the bus ahead of you. If no seats are available, make sure not to block the aisle, so people can leave easily.
Push the button
Buses across the UK are fitted with buttons that passengers press to alert the driver to stop at the next station. As the bus pulls away from the station before yours, press the button to illuminate the stop sign at the front of the bus. The doors will then open automatically at your stop, and a quick thank you or cheers directed at the driver as you depart is always appreciated.
Research your route
No matter if you’re a seasoned pro at traveling or heading abroad for the first time, research is the key to arriving at the right place at the right time. Check out your local bus company’s website, use their app or pop into a tourist information office for advice. If you’re studying at one of our language schools you’ll be surrounded by knowledgeable staff from the local area who are pros at getting you from A to B.