Burning Questions: Mobile phones on public transport - are bus and train chatterboxes rude?

This Is Local London: Do you ever get annoyed by people using their mobile phones on buses or trains? Do you ever get annoyed by people using their mobile phones on buses or trains?

MANY people who use public transport will tut and moan about it, but will also have been guilty of it themselves at some point.

I’m talking about using our mobile phones while travelling on buses and trains.

Do you think it’s rude and get annoyed when someone makes a call and proceeds to drone on for the rest of the journey about work or relationships, inflicting half of their inane conversation on you? If someone takes a non-urgent call should they try to be quiet and finish it quickly without disturbing passengers around them?

Or are you more easy-going and think there’s nothing wrong with people spending their commute having private chats with friends, family or colleagues, however noisy or boring they’re being?

Do you think public transport mobile phone users are inconsiderate or should people just put up with it? Add your comments below.

Also, are there any public places or times when using mobile phones should be a no-no?

This Is Local London: Burning Questions

The Burning Questions feature aims to resolve some of the oddities of social etiquette, settle some of life’s perennial arguments and crack some of those tricky questions with readers’ collective knowledge.

If there is an issue you’re always squabbling about with workmates or friends or something that makes you go hmmm, email me with your suggestions for future burning questions to ask.

Comments (20)

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6:50am Thu 9 Jan 14

sarfflondonbird says...

And don't forget in supermarket queues, where they are so busy yakking that they hold everything up while they try to juggle phone and pack shopping, get their pose out of bag, wallet out off pocket, or the best bit, they've forgotten some bits and pieces because they were too pre occupied, and everybody has to wait for them to go get missing items. They should be shot.
And don't forget in supermarket queues, where they are so busy yakking that they hold everything up while they try to juggle phone and pack shopping, get their pose out of bag, wallet out off pocket, or the best bit, they've forgotten some bits and pieces because they were too pre occupied, and everybody has to wait for them to go get missing items. They should be shot. sarfflondonbird
  • Score: 59

7:50am Thu 9 Jan 14

alexianson94 says...

I think it's part of our culture. We expect everyone on public transport to be perfectly silent, otherwise they are just bothering us.

I suggest watching a video on Youtube. It's called "Great Speech That May Change The Way You Think About Adulthood This is Water", and the thumbnail should be a slightly blurry shop isle.

The video talks about the dullness of routine and how automatic it is for us to feel how personally unfair how long traffic jams take and how everything just seems to get in our way.

Yes. People who talk loudly on phones in public places are kind of irritating. However you have to consider what's going on from their perspective. You're only hearing half a conversation. So, for my new years resolution, i'm going to stop thinking that the world revolves around me, and that my desires for silence is more important than someone else's conversation.
I think it's part of our culture. We expect everyone on public transport to be perfectly silent, otherwise they are just bothering us. I suggest watching a video on Youtube. It's called "Great Speech That May Change The Way You Think About Adulthood This is Water", and the thumbnail should be a slightly blurry shop isle. The video talks about the dullness of routine and how automatic it is for us to feel how personally unfair how long traffic jams take and how everything just seems to get in our way. Yes. People who talk loudly on phones in public places are kind of irritating. However you have to consider what's going on from their perspective. You're only hearing half a conversation. So, for my new years resolution, i'm going to stop thinking that the world revolves around me, and that my desires for silence is more important than someone else's conversation. alexianson94
  • Score: -111

8:52am Thu 9 Jan 14

Jackytalks says...

We should not be subjected to other peoples conversations in public full stop. I don't want to listen to someone else's row or personal life and when I'm at working trying to serve them and they are talking to me and someone else on the phone is really rude and I just carry on talking to them or ask them to come back when they have finished
We should not be subjected to other peoples conversations in public full stop. I don't want to listen to someone else's row or personal life and when I'm at working trying to serve them and they are talking to me and someone else on the phone is really rude and I just carry on talking to them or ask them to come back when they have finished Jackytalks
  • Score: 52

9:49am Thu 9 Jan 14

PaulErith says...

alexianson94 wrote:
I think it's part of our culture. We expect everyone on public transport to be perfectly silent, otherwise they are just bothering us. I suggest watching a video on Youtube. It's called "Great Speech That May Change The Way You Think About Adulthood This is Water", and the thumbnail should be a slightly blurry shop isle. The video talks about the dullness of routine and how automatic it is for us to feel how personally unfair how long traffic jams take and how everything just seems to get in our way. Yes. People who talk loudly on phones in public places are kind of irritating. However you have to consider what's going on from their perspective. You're only hearing half a conversation. So, for my new years resolution, i'm going to stop thinking that the world revolves around me, and that my desires for silence is more important than someone else's conversation.
I don't really think that it's about a desire for silence, but more of a protocol that works for everyone. Hence, when someone breaks it, then it's considered rude. The point is that if everyone on the train was having a loud phone conversation, it wouldn't work. It would be so loud that nobody would actually be able to hear or concentrate on their conversation. Therefore, if we accept that that would not work, there has to be another protocol. It can't be that some people can speak loudly and other can't because that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, we arrive at the protocol whereby everyone respects each other and refrains from loud phone conversations . Those that break this are rude.
[quote][p][bold]alexianson94[/bold] wrote: I think it's part of our culture. We expect everyone on public transport to be perfectly silent, otherwise they are just bothering us. I suggest watching a video on Youtube. It's called "Great Speech That May Change The Way You Think About Adulthood This is Water", and the thumbnail should be a slightly blurry shop isle. The video talks about the dullness of routine and how automatic it is for us to feel how personally unfair how long traffic jams take and how everything just seems to get in our way. Yes. People who talk loudly on phones in public places are kind of irritating. However you have to consider what's going on from their perspective. You're only hearing half a conversation. So, for my new years resolution, i'm going to stop thinking that the world revolves around me, and that my desires for silence is more important than someone else's conversation.[/p][/quote]I don't really think that it's about a desire for silence, but more of a protocol that works for everyone. Hence, when someone breaks it, then it's considered rude. The point is that if everyone on the train was having a loud phone conversation, it wouldn't work. It would be so loud that nobody would actually be able to hear or concentrate on their conversation. Therefore, if we accept that that would not work, there has to be another protocol. It can't be that some people can speak loudly and other can't because that wouldn't be fair. Therefore, we arrive at the protocol whereby everyone respects each other and refrains from loud phone conversations . Those that break this are rude. PaulErith
  • Score: 40

10:45am Thu 9 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it.

THAnk YOU
I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it. THAnk YOU Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -34

11:16am Thu 9 Jan 14

Hk says...

I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train.

My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.
I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance. Hk
  • Score: 36

12:23pm Thu 9 Jan 14

sarfflondonbird says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it.

THAnk YOU
And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say).

THank YOU
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it. THAnk YOU[/p][/quote]And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say). THank YOU sarfflondonbird
  • Score: 31

12:42pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Biffo. says...

sarfflondonbird wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it.

THAnk YOU
And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say).

THank YOU
Well said young lady. This man is a typical ignorant caravan dweller.


As you say, thank you.
[quote][p][bold]sarfflondonbird[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it. THAnk YOU[/p][/quote]And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say). THank YOU[/p][/quote]Well said young lady. This man is a typical ignorant caravan dweller. As you say, thank you. Biffo.
  • Score: 31

1:10pm Thu 9 Jan 14

LJK says...

People who take calls whilst on public transport are not as annoying (as long as they aren't too loud) as the people who happily stand on the platform/at a bus stop with their phone in their bag/pocket and as soon as they step foot on the train/bus they get their phone out and start making phone calls for the whole journey. When they step foot off the train/bus, they put their phone away; REALLY irritating.
People who take calls whilst on public transport are not as annoying (as long as they aren't too loud) as the people who happily stand on the platform/at a bus stop with their phone in their bag/pocket and as soon as they step foot on the train/bus they get their phone out and start making phone calls for the whole journey. When they step foot off the train/bus, they put their phone away; REALLY irritating. LJK
  • Score: 28

1:42pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Wiff180 says...

9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame.
9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame. Wiff180
  • Score: -13

2:08pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Bexleyheath Resident says...

Hk wrote:
I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.
You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that!
[quote][p][bold]Hk[/bold] wrote: I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.[/p][/quote]You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that! Bexleyheath Resident
  • Score: 23

2:45pm Thu 9 Jan 14

HearTheFacts says...

The problem is those that scream down the phone. As far as hearing a call, well 9out10 calls are foreign.

It's time that phone companies, advised buyers that it is a phone for talking. Not for screaming at it!.
The problem is those that scream down the phone. As far as hearing a call, well 9out10 calls are foreign. It's time that phone companies, advised buyers that it is a phone for talking. Not for screaming at it!. HearTheFacts
  • Score: 21

8:05pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Biffo. wrote:
sarfflondonbird wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it.

THAnk YOU
And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say).

THank YOU
Well said young lady. This man is a typical ignorant caravan dweller.


As you say, thank you.
Oh pick on Joe day is it.

Testicles to you both.
[quote][p][bold]Biffo.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sarfflondonbird[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: I can't remember the last time I used public transport but I just cannot stand rudeness at all anywhere. You need look no further than this comments section for rudeness. Every single day its rude rude rude and down right offensive from certain commenters. There is no need for it. THAnk YOU[/p][/quote]And you should know............you are one of the rudest people commenting on this page............now run along (as you say). THank YOU[/p][/quote]Well said young lady. This man is a typical ignorant caravan dweller. As you say, thank you.[/p][/quote]Oh pick on Joe day is it. Testicles to you both. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -20

10:39pm Thu 9 Jan 14

minimouse11 says...

its ok as long as they are quite and dont shout or swear, sometimes its quite amusing listening to what people think is the end of the world yet have no idea what actually going on around them. or people who think they are hard done by but yet they actually lead the easiest life going.
if you sit back and listen to these conversations youll actually be enlightened and even amused.
the loud music through headphones or the actual phone is a lot worse, i dont want to listen to your crappy music.
the absolute worst time is when your queueing in a shop and someone halts the queue to answer a phone, if its important step aside and let others theough, not all of us have all the time in the world, its also incredably rude to be on the phone whilst a shop assistant is talking to you!!!
get some manners hang up and ring them back.
its ok as long as they are quite and dont shout or swear, sometimes its quite amusing listening to what people think is the end of the world yet have no idea what actually going on around them. or people who think they are hard done by but yet they actually lead the easiest life going. if you sit back and listen to these conversations youll actually be enlightened and even amused. the loud music through headphones or the actual phone is a lot worse, i dont want to listen to your crappy music. the absolute worst time is when your queueing in a shop and someone halts the queue to answer a phone, if its important step aside and let others theough, not all of us have all the time in the world, its also incredably rude to be on the phone whilst a shop assistant is talking to you!!! get some manners hang up and ring them back. minimouse11
  • Score: 8

5:47am Fri 10 Jan 14

sarfflondonbird says...

Wiff180 wrote:
9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame.
I disagree. Male passengers on train and tube are equally guilty.
[quote][p][bold]Wiff180[/bold] wrote: 9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame.[/p][/quote]I disagree. Male passengers on train and tube are equally guilty. sarfflondonbird
  • Score: 7

5:52am Fri 10 Jan 14

sarfflondonbird says...

Bexleyheath Resident wrote:
Hk wrote:
I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.
You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that!
Just keep asking him what you're meant to do when he points, or ask questions about oyster charges etc. Tell him......."Did your mother not tell you it's rude to point?"
Bet he is a foreigner, got to be if he owns/runs a local shop. They're the worst for rudeness.
[quote][p][bold]Bexleyheath Resident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hk[/bold] wrote: I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.[/p][/quote]You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that![/p][/quote]Just keep asking him what you're meant to do when he points, or ask questions about oyster charges etc. Tell him......."Did your mother not tell you it's rude to point?" Bet he is a foreigner, got to be if he owns/runs a local shop. They're the worst for rudeness. sarfflondonbird
  • Score: 33

12:19pm Fri 10 Jan 14

PaulErith says...

Bexleyheath Resident wrote:
Hk wrote: I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.
You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that!
I've been in there in the past and experienced the same thing. As you say, no wonder small shops are going under! The last thing that a small shop has got to offer is customer service. They normally can't compete on price, but they can provide the personal touch. I, like you, will not go in a shop where the shop owner is on the phone. There's two newsagents a few doors from each other near where I work. One is always on his phone and hardly even acknowledges you. The other is friendly and will have a bit of a chat. Loads of people at work feel the same and make a point of snubbing the rude one.
[quote][p][bold]Bexleyheath Resident[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hk[/bold] wrote: I dont have a problem with people using their mobiles on the trains/buses I just think that some people should maybe talk a bit quieter. At the end of the day someone talking at a reasonable level on their mobile is no different from 2 people having a conversation together on the train. My pet hate is when people go into shops and expect to be served while on their mobiles. It is rude and it can hold up the queue. I think all shops should have the same policy and that is to refuse to sell someone if they are on their mobile. Its not like they cant call that person back once they have finished their shopping. I also cant stand it when people ignore the signs in petrol garages asking them not to use their mobiles while in the garage. That is just pure ignorance.[/p][/quote]You should visit the Cabin in Barnehurst then, the shop keeper often tries to serve me while on the phone! Happened on multiple occasions, last time i was trying to send a package and top up my oyster card, instead of getting off his phone he just pointed to direct me what to do. I have also had family members experience the same thing in this shop! Hows that for rude! Will no longer go in there, no wonder there small businesses are slowly fading out to the big supermarkets with service like that![/p][/quote]I've been in there in the past and experienced the same thing. As you say, no wonder small shops are going under! The last thing that a small shop has got to offer is customer service. They normally can't compete on price, but they can provide the personal touch. I, like you, will not go in a shop where the shop owner is on the phone. There's two newsagents a few doors from each other near where I work. One is always on his phone and hardly even acknowledges you. The other is friendly and will have a bit of a chat. Loads of people at work feel the same and make a point of snubbing the rude one. PaulErith
  • Score: 13

12:51pm Fri 10 Jan 14

concerned.erith says...

Reminds me of story in the late 90's when a guy was chatting loudly on a phone then when a passenger collapsed he was asked if they could use his phone to call an ambulance - after refusing several times he finally admitted it was a toy and he'd been pretendin the whole time pi$$ing the entire carriage off until the person collapsed!
Reminds me of story in the late 90's when a guy was chatting loudly on a phone then when a passenger collapsed he was asked if they could use his phone to call an ambulance - after refusing several times he finally admitted it was a toy and he'd been pretendin the whole time pi$$ing the entire carriage off until the person collapsed! concerned.erith
  • Score: 3

1:11pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Wiff180 says...

sarfflondonbird wrote:
Wiff180 wrote:
9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame.
I disagree. Male passengers on train and tube are equally guilty.
Fair enough if you don't agree, but next time you are on the train have a look, you'll see. This morning from Crayford to New Eltham some woman just chatting away about nothing to some poor soul the other end.....
[quote][p][bold]sarfflondonbird[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Wiff180[/bold] wrote: 9 times out of 10 it is a woman. Some train companies have carriages which block out the signal so that people who don't want to hear the inane conversations can sit in peace. Southeastern don't have this.....shame.[/p][/quote]I disagree. Male passengers on train and tube are equally guilty.[/p][/quote]Fair enough if you don't agree, but next time you are on the train have a look, you'll see. This morning from Crayford to New Eltham some woman just chatting away about nothing to some poor soul the other end..... Wiff180
  • Score: -1

5:39pm Tue 14 Jan 14

DinoFish says...

All about volume and paying attention. If the entire Bus/Carriage can hear your conversation or you are too busy texting to be aware of others then yes it's rude.

There appears to be a minority who behave like this deliberately, just to have some sort of confrontation. Still, it is only the minority and most people seem to be able to behave themselves when using Mobile phones on Public Transport.
All about volume and paying attention. If the entire Bus/Carriage can hear your conversation or you are too busy texting to be aware of others then yes it's rude. There appears to be a minority who behave like this deliberately, just to have some sort of confrontation. Still, it is only the minority and most people seem to be able to behave themselves when using Mobile phones on Public Transport. DinoFish
  • Score: 0

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