The Important Question of Our Time: Which Seat Should You Pick on TriMet?

And yes, there is a right answer.

By Julia Silverman January 3, 2020

Sparked by an offhand NYE post from a college student in the Bronx, New Yorkers have spent the first days of the new decade hotly debating the best place to sit on the subway. (Clear answer: anywhere that’s not next to a manspreader or their evil twin kin, the she-bagger, obvi. Bonus points for never sitting anywhere at all on the almost-always-delayed F train, if you can help it.)

And so, people of Portland, in the grand tradition of piggybacking on Twitter memes that will be hopelessly played out in another 17 hours or so, we present the PoMo take on “where should you sit on the bus,” which is decidedly not brought to you by TriMet.

And yes, there is a right answer, unless you are on the WES commuter line. No one takes the WES, right? So sit anywhere you like. You'll probably have the whole compartment to yourself. 

We’ve labeled the above seats on the 14 from Hawthorne to downtown with the numbers 2-8 (you'll have to imagine seat 1, just outside the frame). Note that the bulk of the seats are towards the front of the bus, though PoMo Art Director Mike Novak makes a convincing case for the back row, identified in our photo as seat 8:

“There’s room to stretch out your legs under/behind the inward facing seats in front of you, or cross your leg. You have your back to the wall, so no pesky sick person coughing on you from behind. There’s a window with a view. No one looming over you. And 90 percent of the time no one wants to sit in the awkward spot in between the center and outer seats, so you usually have elbow room. Downside is getting out when it’s time to leave requires some maneuvering, but well worth it.”

(His compatriot in the art department, Brian Breneman, begs to differ, noting that the back seats are often occupied by surly teens surreptiously puffing on their Juuls. Valid!)

Others on the PoMo staff carry a torch for seat 7, affectionately known as the mezzanine, which puts you high enough to get a bird's eye view over your fellow passengers, so you'll be the first to know if the bridge is up, and can make sure you don't accidentally miss your stop. Bonus: easy stand-up from the higher seat, a win for your creaky old bones. 

But the clear winner here is seat 6: You’re not occupying a seat that is reserved for the elderly or someone in a wheelchair as you would be in seats 1-3, earning yourself a special place in hell. Seats 4 and 5 have constricted leg room, plus the placement of the yellow straphangers pole essentially guarantees that you’re going to get smacked in the face by someone’s oversized backpack (or worse).

Seat 6 is the sweet spot. An aisle seat in between two poles with near direct access to the rear exit for when your stop comes up: You’re living the dream. (You may ask: What about the adjacent window seat? Clear answer: If you take the aisle seat, instead of the window, you’ve got a better chance at getting some elbow room, as approximately 84 percent of Portlanders are too polite to ask you to shove over so they can sit down. The rest of us are from California and New York, and will just glare at you, but what do you care? You’ve got seat 6, baby! You’re sitting pretty!)

Our final piece of advice, for the MAX riders out there: Under no circumstances should you get stuck sitting in the nobody-puts-Baby-in-the-corner seat, pictured below. You might as well just wear a dunce cap and call it good. 

Your turn now! All our Portlanders, what is the best seat? 

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