I've never taken my Dahons (Piccolo, Speed8) on a bus but I'm going to try this weekend. I have the Dahon bag but will avoid using it because it makes the package larger. Instead, I will use two black plastic garbage bags using tape to make the package smaller. Taping the bike around certain areas actually makes the package thinner which will allow me to board. I found both bikes are practically the same size except the overall package for the 20' inch wheel (Speed 8) is about 15% larger. If the bus driver kicks me off with the 20' inch cycle, I higher doubt he would change his/her mind on a 16' inch wheel bike.
I've never had trouble taking the bike on any rail system but the bus creates a whole set of problems because the space is quite limited. I know right away to head to the back of bus but there's always the problem of where to put the bike once I get there. All buses are not the same and if it's crowded, I'll know enough to stand by the bike so I hope the bus is empty. I will try to take my bike on a couple of bus lines to see what the reacton is (positive/negative) and if I was able to board.
Since most cities have limited rail service, the bus opens up many opportunities that full size bicycle owners can only dream. Being able to boad a bus with a folding bike gives you what I call "Hyper-Mobility" that only motorists enjoy. Taking the bus back home after a long ride or multi-mode commuting are just some of the opportunities the bus opens up for the folder.
Does anyone on this forum have ACTUAL experience with boarding a bicycle inside the cabin of a bus?
a. Did other passengers complain?
b. Where did you place the bike upon entering?
c. Where you able to sit?
d. Did the bus driver give you a warning or negative feedback?
e. What size wheel was the bicycle?
Check the public transportation site. They usually tell you when you can bring your bikes on the bus/subway. They usually schedule it just so the times you would want to bring your bike on the transit you can't.
Definitely consult your local public transit website or call if you have questions. In Chicago, all folder bikes are always allowed on trains at all times, and all bikes are allowed on buses, but we do have a bike rack on most buses to put your bike. Metra (suburb trains) allow folders on all trains without restrictions beyond that they must be fulded when entering the train.
I haven't taken a folder on the train, but a friend of mine saw someone ride up to the train on his folder, fold it, and get on the train. He said most people were impressed. no one seemed put out at all.
I've taken my folders (all 20") on CTA buses many times with no problems whatsoever from the driver or other passengers.
Sometimes I put the bike in a factory bag, sometimes not.
I usually sit in one of the single seats the CTA buses have and set my folder on the floor to the left of the seat. I run my arm through the bag's carrying straps to make sure the bike doesn't fall. Then I just sit there and read a book.
Sometimes I will go further to the back of the bus and push my bike behind the last forward-facing seat and the first club seat that faces across the aisle.
Most CTA buses have bike racks. 16" and larger diameter wheels will fit in the racks. But every once in a while a bus will show up without a rack. Racks have to be removed when a bus is towed, and garage managers are under pressure to get the repaired buses back on the street ASAP so they are often sent out without their racks being replaced. This is more of a problem in the winter.
Because I sometimes take the bus to the train during the rush hour period when bikes boarding the train have to be folded, I will fold my bike and bag it while waiting at the bus stop just so I won't have to take the time to do it when I get to the train station. Then I only have to jump off the bus with my bike over my shoulder and scurry downstairs and through the turnstile. Sometimes a train is just pulling up or just getting ready to leave, and a precious minute wasted folding your bike might mean waiting 8 minutes for the next train.
Chicagoland Folding Bike Society http://www.geocities.com/rjmatter/
Dedicated to the promotion of folding bicycles
and enhancement of the folding bike experience.
I take my bike on the bus at least five days a week, and it's a Matrix, so it isn't too small even when folded. As everyone else has said, check the regulations of the transit authority in question. In my area bikes are welcome except during rush hour, but folding bikes can always be brought on. I thought a twenty-six inch folder was a nice way to exploit the rule. I always sit in the back, on DART (Dallas) buses there are two benches against the side of the bus and one at the back, forming a kind of "U" and allowing more room for the bike to sit in front of me. I usually don't even fold my bike up unless it is crowded and I want to be out of the way for other passengers. I've never had a bus driver insist I fold the bike, but I usually just use the train for my rush hours travels. I use the velcro strap that came with my Dahon to secure my bike to a support pole on the bus so it can't flop around. I've never had any problems with a driver or passenger. People will constantly ask you were you "get a bike like that." Actually, if I had to point to any problems, it's that people are always asking me about the bike, which is nice except that 50% of them begin the conversation with "How much does a bike like that cost?" I understand they mean no harm, but it's a rude question to ask a stranger--especially when they follow my pat response of "It's a mid-range bike" with "How much is that?" Don't get me wrong, I've still enjoyed talking to most of the people who have started the conversation in the above indecorous manner--they are just overcurious and undermannered but it's still a chance to spread the gospel, if you know what I mean.
I printed up the pertinent section of the DART regulations and keep the page in my tail pack. I've never had a real problem. One time, I started to hop on the bus with my bike unfolded and the driver told me "You know, technically you can't bring that on the bus during rush hours" and motioned me aboard anyway (it was 8:45 and the bus was practically empty). I explained the rule to him, but he still seemed incredulous, so I showed him the printout. It may be that a driver doesn't know the rule because they've never seen someone bring a folder on the bus (or seen a folder period) so the printout is my backup, I don't want to get into an argument with a bus driver.
So check the local rules and enjoy. You are right that the combination of public transport and a folder gives one almost car-like ease of mobility. Dallas is a terrible place for bike commuting and public transport, but I get around just fine using the two combined with living 6 blocks from a train station/bus transit center. Always having the bike allows you to a much wider variety of routes and connections than being on foot.