Taking the Bus

busAre you worried about taking the bus in a foreign country? Which bus will you take? How much does it cost? Will you have to change buses?

These are all questions that go through your mind at the bus stop. Don’t worry! Bus drivers will help you find your way. Other passengers will too. All you have to do is ask!

Questions to ask at the bus stop
Which bus goes to the airport?
How often does bus number 301 come?
Does the downtown bus stop here?
Where do I catch the bus to the hospital/airport/mall/library/university?
Is this the bus that goes down Main Street? (when you see one coming)

Responses you may hear
I’m sorry, I’m not from here.
The bus comes every fifteen minutes.
The bus comes once an hour.
You need bus #14.
Any bus will take you to the airport.
It will be here any minute. (very soon)

Talking to the bus driver
Is this an express bus? (a bus that makes very few stops)
How much is the fare to …?
What is the child’s fare?
Is there a student fare?
Do I need a transfer?
May I have a transfer, please?
I need to get off at …
Can you tell me when we get to …?
Which is the closest stop to …?
How far is it to the …?

Show some courtesy to other passengers
May I sit here?
Would you like my seat?
I’ll stand.
I can move over for you.
Excuse me, this is my stop. (If someone is sitting beside you or blocking the door.)

Useful Vocabulary
transfer (verb): to go from one bus to another using the same ticket
transfer (noun): a piece of paper that shows you paid for a bus and lets you get on another bus going another way
bus fare: the amount of money to pay the driver
bus route: the way the bus goes; usually associated with a # or place name
get off: leave the bus
get on/board: enter the bus
rear seats: seating at the back of the bus
aisle: the long hall you walk down
courtesy/reserved/handicapped seating: to be used by those who need extra time or help to get on or off the bus
public transit: transportation that anyone can use (buses, subways, trains)

Tip: On some buses you are supposed to get off at the back of the bus. Sit or stand near the rear doors to avoid missing your stop. In some countries you pull a chain or ring a bell before your stop. Many drivers will only stop at official bus stops. Express buses do not stop at all stops.

Survival Challenge: The bus stop is a great place to practise your English. What are some ways to start small talk at the bus stop?

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | December 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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