phone calls on the bus — rude, or to be welcomed?

On the No. 3 this morning a woman pulled out her cell phone and was punching away at her keyboard. Then it rang, she picked up, and began telling her caller about the text message she had just sent to — to the wrong person!

“Oh my gosh, it was so funny,” she said, and now she would have to send another text explaining the first: “Oops!”


To me, the best part of riding is the time for reading, and I struggle to concentrate amid too much talking. Even so, I couldn’t decide if I should be annoyed.

Personally, I’d love nothing more than for every rider to act as if at the library, shushing all would-be loud-talkers into complacent silence. Then again, I don’t mind when riders talk quietly amongst themselves, and I’m certainly glad this woman wasn’t texting and talking while driving a car.

Distracted driving contributes to thousands of traffic deaths and injuries each year, as was highlighted in a Pulitzer-winning series on the subject by The New York Times. And the cause of cutting down on distracted driving has been taken up by Oprah ( and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that supporters of public transit should want more riders like her? If everyone who used their cell phones during their commutes were riding the bus instead of driving, it’s safe to assume we’d have a lot more riders — which would be good for the fare box and good for building up demand.

As I tried to resume my reading for the fifth time, the woman took another call and her laughter turned to an impatient scolding, apparently directed at a son or daughter whose excuse for being late to school she didn’t want to hear.

I seriously considered shooting a nasty glare her way, but looking around, the other passengers appeared undisturbed, sitting and staring straight ahead. Maybe I’d be the one being rude, I thought. Maybe I’d better get used to the idea of the bus as a place where people are welcome to use their cell phones.

Or maybe I ought to invest in a nice set of headphones.