The 9 most messed up things I've seen on public transport.

We need to talk about how people behave on trains.

You see, I commute from Greater Western Sydney to Surry Hills for work every day. So I spend a lot of time on public transport. Over an hour and a half to be exact.

Last year,  I would take a train from the Blue Mountains to Central every week for uni which was easily a two-hour trip door to door.

And when you spend that many hours of your day on the train, you see some pretty messed up sh*t.

Side note: Explaining public transport to my baby.

Video by MMC

I think it’s about time we talk about train etiquette because when you’re trapped in a confined carriage with 20 strangers every day, there are certain things you don’t want to see or… smell.

Here’s just a few of the weird, annoying and downright disgusting things myself and my co-workers have seen on the train, that really need to stop.

1. Eating smelly food.

I have to start with this one because it truly baffles me like nothing else.

When you’re stuck in a confined space with dozens of other people, now is not the time to eat nasty smelling food. You should do that before you leave home or after you get off the train so the foul smell doesn’t pollute the air we all have to breathe for the next half an hour.

Just last week, I was on the train on a 30-degree day when a lady cracked open a hard-boiled egg right in front of me. I watched her pull this egg out of a container and slowly peel the shell, all while I was trying not to gag two seats behind her.

And trust me when I say the smell… lingered.

Another time, I was on the train going to work in the morning when a man decided now was the perfect time to eat a can of tuna.

Now I don’t like the smell of tuna at the best of times, so at 7:30 in the morning I felt physically sick to my stomach. So much so that I had to get up and move to another carriage.


And this is a problem that happens on all public transport.

My co-worker Jess told me, “On a bus once, this guy just opened a wedge of blue cheese, and a box of crackers and just started eating the cheese as if it were a dip. I love blue cheese, but found the sight, and smell of it confronting.”


2. Listening to music or calling someone on loudspeaker.

I think I speak for every person on the train when I say – please stop listening to music and having phone calls on loudspeaker.

We don’t need to hear your private phone conversations with your friend. We have more important things to do on the train like answer work emails or daydream out the window. And you’re ruining it.

This one time I overheard a man telling his friend over the phone about a fight he had with his girlfriend. He thought his girlfriend was cheating on him with his best friend, who we’ll just call Jarrod.

So the man starts recounting the fight over the phone and uses some very colourful language to describe Jarrod. He explains how he confronted his girlfriend about the affair but she said she would never cheat, especially not with someone like Jarrod. Ouch, sorry Jarrod.

They ended up having a massive blow up and he stormed out of the house. Which explains why he had a bouquet of flowers on his lap.

Now, I’m going to be honest, that was a rare time when I didn’t mind overhearing a stranger’s conversation. But most of the time it’s not juicy relationship drama, it’s boring conversations between spouses and I’m so sick of hearing it on loudspeaker.

3. When people get a little too comfortable.

I understand that when you’re on the train for a long time, you want to stretch out and make yourself feel comfortable. But the important thing to remember is that you’re still in a public setting not in the privacy of your own lounge room.

Please don’t take your shoes off, please don’t release any bodily gasses and no, sir I don’t want to see you pick your nose. It’s disgusting.

My co-worker Lily told me that “one time I saw someone cutting their nails. It was disgusting and made the grossest noise.”


4. PDA

Whether you’re a fan of public displays of affection or not, I think we can all agree it’s unfair to make out on a train when other passengers are stuck sitting next to you.

On my way home from work a few weeks ago, I sat on a three-seater next to a couple. Five minutes into the journey, the couple start passionately making out right up against me.


The sound alone was unsettling.

Now, I’m not really the type of person to say anything so I opted for something a little more passive-aggressive and stuck my elbow out as a barrier in the hopes they would stop. But that didn’t work. So I just sat there silently resenting them and texting my sister about it until another seat opened up for me to move.

5. Drunk people.

You always get a few drunk people on the train. Most of the time they’re fine and usually stay with their group of friends. But then you get some drunk people who are loud, obnoxious and put other passengers on edge.

One time on my way to work – in the middle of the day I might add – a man who was wearing no shirt and had a guitar strapped to his back stormed through the carriage swearing loudly while holding a bottle of alcohol in his hand. Oh joy, I thought.

Thankfully he sat near the train doors and I was sitting in the carriage downstairs. But this was the day my train got delayed because there was an accident on the tracks. So for the next hour, we were stuck on a carriage with a drunk man who kept calling the train crew on the help intercom because he was bored and wanted a chat.

It was not a fun experience.

6. People who try to smoke on the train.

Everyone knows you can’t smoke on public transport – it’s the law. So why do people still try and get away with it?

On my way to work last month, my train was held up because a man in another carriage started smoking.

The conductor told us over the loudspeaker that the train wouldn’t be going anywhere until the man put out his cigarette and if he failed to do so, the police will be called.

As you can imagine, everyone else on the train was incredibly annoyed, because no one knew what was happening. Eventually, the man put out his cigarette and the train started moving again.

But I was already late for work at that point.

7. Bags on seats.

Another rule we all know to be true is to not put our bags on the seat. And yet, it’s a daily occurrence.

I’ve made my peace with people who take up four seats to put their luggage on because travel is stressful and they don’t have much choice, but every day I see people put a laptop bag or handbag on the seat when the train is very clearly full.

When I first started taking the train I was too nervous to ask anyone to move their bag. I would just stand by the doors or sit on the staircase until a seat opened us. But being a long-time commuter changes you.


Now I have no problem going up and asking people to move their bags – politely of course – so  I can sit down for the next hour.


8. Taking up multiple seats or whole sections of the train.

On a similar note, nothing annoys me more than when people take up an entire row of seats or better yet,  a whole section of the train to themselves. I’m not one to point fingers, but grown adults and teenagers are the worst culprits.

It’s not a club,  you can’t just create your own VIP section and reserve half of the seats.

My co-worker Jessica also finds it annoying "when people manspread and you're squished against the wall of the train."

9. People who fall asleep on you.

I get it, we’re all tired on the train after a long day at work or uni. But if you’re going to sleep on the train, there are three rules you should follow.

1. Don’t fall asleep on someone else’s shoulder. 2. Don’t snore loudly in someone else's general direction and 3. You can only fall asleep if you’re sitting in a window seat. If you’re in the middle or aisle seat, then the unlucky few of us sitting next to you are forced to either wake you up or give you an awkward lap dance as we try scooching over you. It’s not a fun time for anyone involved.

What's the most annoying thing that's happened to you on public transport? Let us know in the comments below. 

Feature Image: Getty.