How should you behave in Basel’s trams and buses? While there are few official laws, many social norms and expectations are part of the Basel social culture.

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Recommendations in all trams and buses  
Buzz Info: Tram Rules
Do Not:Smoke, Eat or Drink
  1. Give your seat to the elderlyStanding up for disabled/elderly people is in Basel a pretty important social rule. In both tram and bus, you should stand up and offer your seat to an elderly or disabled person. If you don’t speak German, you can offer it with a simple gesture, and most times, the person will accept. This rule applies to the seats by the doors and, on full trams, to all seats. In buses are the front seats reserved for handicapped and elderly. Note: If you look healthy, you are expected to give up your seat. Stories of elderly Basel residents giving the evil eye to an athletic guy who doesn’t give up his seat are abundant. Be aware: this can go as far as some grumpy local lady yelling at you! If this happens, take it with humour. Don’t take it personal!
  2. Don’t use the front bus door during the winterGetting in the bus during winter – during the winter months, it is the social norm only to get in the middle or back of a bus. People do this so that the bus driver doesn’t get cold. You may sit towards the front; just enter in the back or middle. The same rule applies on exit.
Exception: The elderly or disabled are allowed to enter up front in any weather.
  3. Don’t ask the driver for directionsThe Basel trams and busses have a tight schedule and asking the driver for directions can cause a delay. Ask people waiting at the station. The people of Basel are generally very helpful and most speak some English. If the first person you ask cannot help, quite often another will. For example an old lady started asking a bus driver for directions, he wasn’t very polite, but within a few seconds a passengers stepped in and answered the elderly women’s questions. She was happy and the bus drove on.
  4. Don’t sit in the lowered section of older tramsIn the older trams, a lower middle section has been added both in tram engines as well as in some wagons. That section is for wheelchairs, handicapped, strollers/prams, bicycles, and suitcases. So if the tram not completely empty and don’t need the lowered section, sit somewhere else.To note: If you are on crutches or have suitcases, you should use the lowered tram section. Certain locals don’t like it when you’re taking time wobbling up the step stairs and delaying the tram departure, when two doors away, you could have used the tram part that has been lowered with a lot of money for exactly such a situation.
  5. At stations, don’t wait right in front of the doorWhen getting in a tram, wait off to the side of the door, allowing those who get out enough space. It doesn’t matter which side, but you will notice people will gather to both sides of the door allowing passengers to exit.
  6. Avoid the open area by the middle doors on busesIn a bus, you will see some larger sections without seats –either in the middle of the bus or the two middle doors. These are reserved for strollers/prams, wheelchairs, and suitcases. If there are no seats however, it is ok to fill the space and stand in it. You may, if you stand in those spaces at anytime, just be ready to move and/or help when someone with a stroller/pram or wheelchair enters. Exceptions: If you only ride short distance or the bus is pretty full you may stand there at anytime.
  7. Be aware when to take a bicycle or dog aboardBicycles are generally allowed only outside of rush hours, due the space that they take up. This will be decided by the driver at the time. Small dogs /cats can be transported for free if they are in a small travel carry case, if the dog/animal is too big to fit in one of these or you take it out during the ride, a “child ticket” needs to be purchased.
  8. Hold the door for people running towards the doorHolding doors is also normal. When someone is running for the bus, or an elderly person is trying to get in/out, it is normal to hold the door open by pressing the button till the person is there. How to: Hold the door button (the tram driver can override this) or step on the lowest door step in older trams (which many drivers don’t like). Exception: At the stations Bahnhof SBB and EuroAirport. There, people are basically always running for a tram. If doors are held there, the tram will never drive on.
  9. Use the right buttonThere are also two buttons to open the door in a bus. The blue one is to alert the driver that there is a stroller/pram, wheelchair or elderly person leaving, and he will then lower the bus. This can take time however, so if you don’t need it, press the normal red button.
Only push it when needed
10. Keep your noise level lowPeople don’t like it when you play loud music, have a loud conversation (including on a cell phone), sing, or play a game with noise on your cell phone. If you or your kid cannot go without playing a game with noise, then use head phones!
11. Give a lost item to the driverIf you find a lost item, hand it to the driver, by simply knocking on his door, he will open the window, and collect it. You need to mentiond that it’s a lost item. On a train take it to the SBB office at your destination (usually at the station) 
BLT (yellow) buses   
12. Buying tickets for busesIf you have a multi-ride ticket, these are often validated inside the yellow buses at an orange box. Many stations where yellow buses go, have no ticket kiosk. There, you buy a ticket on the bus by the driver. (In the city/on green BVB buses, you will have a ticket machine at the station. 
Final Buzz 
Remember these are social norms, not laws. You will not get arrested if you are too emotional and yell on your cell phone. Once in a while, though, an elderly lady might get offended when you don’t follow the social culture she’s used to. Don’t be offended if a bus driver who needs to stick to his schedule, reacts a little too harsh, when you hold the door for someone else. All in all, be aware of the local social culture and don’t take it personal when locals react negative because you didn’t follow what they are accustomed to.
 
 
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