As part of an assignment for a current class, I spent several hours this past week sitting on the bus observing passengers and their interactions with other riders. Nothing too much out of the ordinary: people seem to care about getting from point A to point B, whether that involves talking with their seat mate or not.
Of those observed, I found about 20% of passengers are using electronic devices (cell phones or some sort of audio device with headphones). Not surprisingly, these passengers rarely if ever spoke to the people around them.
Those passengers who did strike a conversation with strangers on the bus did so usually because they were almost on top of each other during peak hour crowded bus situations, did so after asking to share the adjacent seat, or when some unusual event happened on the bus (like a guy losing his pants when the driver gunned it – it happened, I kid you not), sparking unanimous laughter or concern.
What brings you to meeting someone new on transit? How often do you run into people on transit that you already know? Do you think public transit provides a “communal” atmosphere where relationships can begin or grow?