9 Cunning Ways To Kill Time On Public Transport

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We may well be a parking marketplace, but we’re not deluded. We bow down to public transport. It reduces carbon emissions, unclogs congested cities, and gets us intimately acquainted with other people’s armpits – clearly all noble causes. The next time you find yourself cursing the third bus in a row to drive past without stopping, turn to these tried-and-tested tricks to keep the ERG out of Underground.


1. Generate your own meme

Are you fed up with having to choose from other people’s substandard meme captions and adapting your humour to fit them? Download a nifty meme generator app for iPhone or Android and you’ll be fed up no more. If you need inspiration to get started, we reckon the Success Kid would have a fair few things to say about no longer being bored on the night bus.

Cost: free. Being the most respected person in your circle of friends and family: priceless



2. Catch up on content with Pocket app

The tube is good for two things: stress-testing your hypothalamus, and not having any phone signal. Pocket is an app that lets you save news and other articles on your phone for reading offline at a later date. As well as helping you create a bespoke repository of reading material, Pocket also lets you organise content by tags, forward it by email, and has a bookmarklet that syncs with your computer’s browser. Get it here on Android and here on iOS.

Cost: free



3. Give yourself an emergency compliment

Did the person next to you on the bus just spill garlic sauce on your lap? (Minus points for aim, plus points for choice of breakfast.) Must be time to for an emergency compliment! Suspicious-looking stains on your chinos are quickly forgotten when you’re told that your coworkers fantasise about getting stuck in the elevator with you.

Cost: dry cleaning of chinos

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4. Write a haiku

This is the ultimate tube trip challenge. Tailor made for short commutes, a haiku is a non-rhyming bitesize poem of Japanese origin that should juxtapose two different images. The primary school formula is 5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables, but the poetically adventurous can learn more about their endless intricacies and variations on Wikipedia.

Cost: a beard and a beret

Commuting is hard
Oyster card’s run out of cash
I left the iron on


5. Go cross-eyed with 2048 Game

Essentially the lovechild of Tetris and a calculator, this game has been around for a while. It’s both a website and a free app available on iOS and Android. After an intensely frustrating ten minutes of figuring out what the Bejebus is going on, you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the patterns of maths beautiful maths. The cruellest thing? 2048 is not the end…

Cost: quite possibly your sanity

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6. Go to your happy place

Mindfulness is the barefooted poster child of modern coping mechanisms, and for good reason. Completely drug- and surgery-free, it teaches you that when life hands you lemons, aka the Northern Line at 8.37am, the best result is not to slice the lemons into a triple gin and tonic but to acknowledge and accept the lemons’ presence. (You can always compensate later with a glass of vino.) Here’s our beginner’s guide to meditation:

  • Close your eyes in a non-creepy way
  • Focus on ONE of the following:
    • Your breathing (the feeling of air entering and leaving your nasal cavities is an old favourite)
    • The physical sensations in your body (the weight on the soles of your feet, the pangs of pre-breakfast hunger)
    • The sounds around you
  • Repeat until you feel the fury ebb away into a state of zen
  • Try not to miss your stop

Cost: some lemons

Sounds easier said than done? The hugely popular Headspace app could help give you a leg up. The basic version is free, with subscription upgrades available for those who take a militant approach to peace of mind.


7. Retreat into the rainforest with Rainy Mood

Sometimes public transport is just so intensely awful that it’s impossible to find the aforementioned happy place without help. That’s where Rainy Mood comes in with its smorgasbord of weathery soundtracks. From a hefty jungle deluge to a patter of light rain on the mediterranean veranda, choose your rainy destination and this app will transport you to a better (wetter) place.

Cost: £2.99 for iPhone, £2.31 for Android



8. Crush your to-do list with Trello

Oops – sorry – this one’s sort of work-related. Productivity hacks outside of office hours may perch awkwardly on the intersection between pay rise and pain, but Trello is a frighteningly easy-to-use tool to help you show your undone tasks who’s boss. It has a simple but satisfying feature whereby you drag and drop items from ‘doing’ to ‘done’. You can collaborate with other users and obviously you can also use it for completely extracurricular tasks, such as box set scheduling. Clickety click for Android and iOS.


Cost: free


9. Amble through an audio book

Listening is the new reading! Audible is a service from Amazon that lets you download and listen to audio books on the go. The apps themselves are free and the Audible service is free for a trial period of 30 days, costing £7.99 per month thereafter. Download it for Android here and iPhone here.

Cost: if £7.99 a month seems steep, you could always revert to the trusty old classic… a paperback from your local library.

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Bonus round: one way NOT to kill time on public transport

Last year, a Facebook group called Women Eating On The Tube made the headlines by turning the evil up to 11. We can only hope that a decent number of these ladies realised what was going on and lobbed their cheeseburgers at the perpetrator’s face.



May the days of public transport-related misery hereby be numbered! As always, if it’s parking you’re after and not procrastination, JustPark is on hand to help with many thousands of prebookable spaces that cost up to 70% less than drive-up prices. There’s an app for that too.

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