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How to not be an asshole on the MTA’s new Wi-Fi busses

This bus seat has a USB port... BE CHILL. Via wikipedia
This bus seat has a USB port… BE CHILL. Photo via Wikipedia

Over the last few weeks, the MTA began introducing a fleet of Wi-Fi-enabled busses equipped with USB ports into its Brooklyn fleet. While we here at Brokelyn appreciate charging our phones and not using up all of our data as much as anyone, this news has us a little worried. How long until the benefits of a full battery are outweighed by the annoyance of your fellow commuter watching YouTube videos without headphones or taking a loud phone call? Given that people, when left to their own devices, tend to ruin everything nice, we assembled a handy guide to taking advantage of the new technology without, well, being a dick.


Photo via Cuomo, the Robin Hood of phone charging. Thanks, Andrew
Photo via Cuomo, the Robin Hood of phone charging. Thanks, Andrew

This is a bus, not an office
We get it, it’s 2017 Brooklyn, folks might work from living rooms or cafes; offices are amorphous. Maybe you’re a freelancer, maybe you’re a student, maybe it’s a work from home day, maybe you’re working on a screenplay, maybe you just really need to get a little extra work done before you get to your meeting. Wi-Fi should not change the basic rules. Be reasonable, use this new luxury to look up something important on your phone, don’t use it to write your thesis. Everyone’s just trying to get from point a to point b, they don’t want your elbows hitting them as you type out a report, and they don’t want to stand over you on a crowded car while you click away.

Normal public transportation courtesy rules apply
USB ports mean that if you can snag a seat, you can get your phone out of the dreaded red zone on your way home. That said, you still have to snag that seat and “my phone is dead” < “I’m pregnant” no matter which way you slice it. As a general rule of thumb, if you’d give up your seat if your cellphone wasn’t charging, you should still probably give it up if it is charging. So just mentally draw a laptop onto the all the green and red guys on the MTA posters, because the rules are still the same.

Don’t take up the whole bus
Likewise, take a note from the green subway stick figure and respect others’ space; Wi-Fi and USB ports aren’t opportunities to sprawl out. It’s tempting — charger plugged in below you, phone in your hand, laptop in your bag — to take up a little extra room. But, despite the wonders of 21st century procrastination tools, there are still other people around you, probably exhausted, overheated people, and spreading out still makes you look like a dick.

Be safe, stupid
You’re still on public transportation. Just because it’s easier to use doesn’t mean it’s any safer to take out your laptop on public transportation. You may be able to ask the guy next to you in the coffee shop to watch your laptop while you go to the restroom, but don’t expect the same to fly on a bus — nobody wants to be on a bus.

Phone courtesy rules haven’t changed
Sure, Wi-Fi means that you can make a FaceTime call, but, contrary to popular belief it does not mean that you should. Because, as it turns out, everyone around you doesn’t actually need to be on a conference call with your aunt. Cell phones and the Internet are great escapist devices that can take you around the world in the blink of an eye. But, outside that one, metaphorical eye, you’re still in the real world, on a real bus, so look up because you almost missed your stop while you were Skyping with bae.

Don’t even think about it
Look, we wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to say “don’t watch pornography on the bus,” we really do. But then we pass the old man on the library computer with headphones on or we see the man literally standing up on the G-train holding Dell in one arm watching softcore during rush hour and we know that this is not that world. So please, for the love of the Metropolitan Transit Authority: Don’t watch pornography on the bus, for, just, all the obvious reasons.

The MTA is rolling out three to five wifi-enabled and USB-equipped busses every week in Brooklyn as they head towards a citywide goal in the thousands, so be prepared to practice some common courtesy. Got your own ideas of how best to use or not use the new busses? Sound off in the comments below.

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