If you frequently find yourself on the receiving end of a stink eye when taking the public bus or MRT in Singapore, maaaybe it’s time to take a few steps back and consider the existence of… tadah, unwritten rules. These social principles have been around since Sang Nila Utama’s time, so it’ll really do you a lot of good to observe the decrees of the city and dutifully abide by them.

From restraining your sweaty toes from saying hi to fellow commuters (c’mon now) to being mindful of your armpit placement for the sake of the vertically-challenged (*musters most aggressive death stare possible*), here are 11 unwritten public transport rules that’ll promptly explain the scowls you’ve been getting:

1. Don’t hog safety poles during peak hours

Don’t hog safety poles during peak hours

Want to practice your Wednesday night jam with the poles? Be our guest – but only on the condition that you’re not depriving others of grabbing the safety poles to stabilize themselves.

Also, for those who are perpetually chionging for poles to lean on… would you want to touch a pole that bears the sticky residue of someone else’s sweaty back?!

2. Love music? Great but use earphones

Use earphones


Believe it or not, buddy, but no one wants to listen to you playing your 100th Candy Crush game. The cacophony of conversations, footsteps shuffling and the repetitious “toot, toot, toot, toot, toot, train doors are closing” is already every introvert’s nightmare. Please don’t add to it unless you want all the introverts around you to suddenly collapse and foam at their mouths! It’s a good idea to invest in some good quality earphones so you won’t have to crank the volume up all the way to enjoy every single note of the song. There are plenty of sites you can go to and earn Cashback too on top of it with Lazada being one of them.

3. Don’t speak too loudly (or shout)

Don't speak loudly (or shout)

In the same vein, do keep your volume to a minimum. Some folks are so loud that their colossal sound waves seem to shrink the space in a tiny bus or MRT compartment even further. We totally empathize if a fellow commuter physically/mentally required society to be more understanding – but if you’re just a very loud person, tone it down a little, pretty please?

4. Don’t manspread

Don’t manspread

For the last time, KEEP ?? YOUR?? LEGS?? TO?? YOURSELF??!

We wonder if men experiencing manspreading from their fellow male specimens go through the same thought process as ladies do. But just so we’re all on the same page, us girls endure a ton of discomfort when someone of the opposite gender voluntarily invades our space.

BTW, that non-consenting intrusion also makes it difficult for ladies to ascertain whether you’re an oblivious egoistic twat or a creepy potential molester. Make it easy for everyone (and safe for yourself) – stop the manspreading!

Don't manspread 2

5. Always keep your shoes on

Always keep your shoes on

This should be illegal.

Singapore is hot and humid and that makes your feet perspire – we get it, we really do – but there’s never a good enough reason for anyone to remove their shoes and obligate everyone to take in putrid whiffs of stinky feet. And whilst we’re discussing this topic, don’t pick at your feet or toenails in public!

6. Cover your nose/mouth when you sneeze/cough

Cover your nose/mouth when you sneeze/cough

No one’s hating on you for falling sick. But ya wanna know what the majority of the commuting population abhors? Having someone sneeze or cough into their face/hair/what-have-you.

Even when you’re feeling only semi-conscious for sneezing your brains out or coughing your lungs apart, remember your manners and act out that mindfulness you’ve been cultivating. Put your hands over your nose/mouth when air is about to come out of your face, or better yet, wear a mask until you get better. Spead love, not germs.

7. Don’t push (especially when others are still getting on/off!)

Don’t push (especially when others are still getting on/off!)

Yet another behavior that should also be illegal.

Some people love offering others assistance with moving in a direction they were already heading towards in the first place. But fact check, bro (or auntie *ahem*): because this is Singapore, where the pace of living is breathlessly fast, the likelihood is that everyone is already moving as quickly as they can.

Perhaps there was a mother struggling with her pram at the entrance? Or there possibly was an elderly ah pek who can’t walk fast? Or maybe the platform is bursting with people and that makes it really difficult to get out of the train quickly? Makes you think, huh? A bit of patience goes a long way.

8. Get your EZ-Link card ready

Get your EZ-link card ready

There’s no gentler way to say this, but get your EZ-link card ready before reaching the gate because you’re being a roadblock. How can people not be annoyed at you when you’re constantly bottlenecking the bus/MRT queue because you didn’t hold your EZ-link card in your hands and are now madly fumbling for it in your bag?

In the voice of Abigail from Revenge Of The Bridesmaids: Did you not queue for a bus and not expect to board one? Why are you not ready?

Get your EZ-link card ready 2

9. Don’t jump queues

Don't jump queues

Anyone who has patiently stood in line at the MRT platform will be able to tell you about the pesky commuters who have no disregard for queues and pompously rush to the front when the trains arrive. That’s not very nice at all. If we don’t jump queues at the toilet (we ask for permission and apologize profusely to everyone in front of us if we really, really have to) or at NTUC’s cashiers, why is boarding the train any different?

May we all awake at the daily dawn being determined to display common courtesy wherever we go.

10. Be mindful of your armpits being in someone else’s face

Be mindful of your armpits being in someone else’s face

Scenario question: If you’re hanging onto a train/bus grab handle and notice your armpit (and armpit hair) being exceedingly close in proximity to someone else’s face, what do you do?

Some people will leave their pits where they were – you’re hanging on for dear life after all. But most fairer beings will make their best effort to steady themselves and be considerate to their fellow commuter. We totally understand that safety comes first – but if the roles were switched and you ended up facing someone else’s rancid armpits, would you like it?

11. Know how much PDA is too much

Know how much PDA is too much

Make no mistake about this one – there is such a thing as too much PDA (public display of affection, for the unacquainted).

Innocent hand-holding, placing arms on each other’s waists and placing a peck on the lips/cheeks/forehead is absolutely fine. But making out, making loud smooch sounds and doing inappropriate things with inappropriate body parts is strictly off-bounds, alright?

Frankly, no one (except the pervs) want to see you in action. But since we’re all on the train/bus together having nowhere else to look, lay down your desires for instant gratification and wait till you’re alone?


That’s all we have for you, folks! Be good!

All images were retrieved from GIPHY.com. Featured image from shutterstock.com.

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