On the Bus Etiquette in Helsinki - Travel Smoothly

Published June 5, 2023

In a new city, you are often wondering what is the etiquette in public transport. We explain the written and unwritten rules of Helsinki Bus Etiquette.

Hailing a Bus

To hail a bus in Helsinki, you should first look for a yellow bus stop sign on the sidewalk. Stand on the sidewalk, close to the sign, and wait for your bus number to arrive. When the bus approaches, make eye contact with the driver and signal by hand showing that you want to board. Show your intention early enough to give the bus enough time to slow down.

Boarding the Bus

You need to board a bus through the front door. Orange-coloured core lines make an exception and you can board them through the middle doors too. It is common to greet the driver while boarding.

Validating Ticket

When boarding a bus in Helsinki, it’s necessary to have a valid ticket. There are several ways to prove to the driver you have a ticket.

The most common way is to simply show your ticket to the driver as you board the bus. If you have a mobile ticket, you can show the ticket on your phone. Alternatively, you can use a travel card to tap on the card reader located near the driver. The driver does not sell tickets. Without a valid ticket, you can’t board.

On the orange-coloured core lines, there is no need to prove you have a ticket but if you meet an inspector, you will be subject to a fine.

Choosing a Place to Sit or Stand

When it comes to choosing where to sit or stand, there are some general etiquette guidelines to keep in mind. Firstly, if you’re in a crowded area, it’s important to be mindful of others’ personal space. Avoid standing too close to someone if there’s ample space elsewhere. When it comes to seating, it’s polite to leave an empty seat between you and someone you don’t know, unless there are no other seats available.

If you are not in a group, try to leave larger seating areas for bigger groups. In general, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and respect others’ personal space. Do not sit on the seat reserved for old or disabled people if you do not belong to these groups.

Talking with People

In Helsinki, small talk is not a common practice on public transport. Finnish people generally prefer to stay silent and respect each other’s privacy. If you feel the need to initiate small talk, it’s important to be respectful and read the other person’s body language. If they are not interested in conversing, it’s best to respect their privacy and not push the conversation. However, if the person seems open to chatting, you can start with a simple greeting or comment about the weather. Just remember to keep the conversation light and respectful, and be prepared to end the conversation if the other person seems uncomfortable.

Exiting the Bus

To request a stop on a bus, press one of the stop buttons inside the bus. The driver will stop at the next designated stop. When it’s time to exit the bus, gather your belongings and move towards the exit door. You should exit only through the middle or rear doors. You do not need to re-validate your ticket when exiting the bus.

Bottom Line

Travelling by bus in Helsinki can be a delightful experience if you follow some basic etiquette. First, signal the driver that you wish to board the bus. Once on board, greet the driver and show your ticket. Choose an appropriate seat, but be mindful of other passengers’ privacy.

When it’s time to get off, press the STOP button and exit the bus without unnecessary delay. During quiet hours, it’s courteous to thank the driver.

Have you travelled by bus in Helsinki? If so, please share your experiences.

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