Prisoner’s Dilemma & Crowded Indian Buses

First of all, what is the Prisoner’s Dilemma? It is an experiment in the field of game theory and is explained below:

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of speaking to or exchanging messages with the other. The police admit they don’t have enough evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They plan to sentence both to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the police offer each prisoner a Faustian bargain. If he testifies against his partner, he will go free while the partner will get three years in prison on the main charge. Oh, yes, there is a catch … If both prisoners testify against each other, both will be sentenced to two years in jail. The prisoners are given a little time to think this over, but in no case may either learn what the other has decided until he has irrevocably made his decision. Each is informed that the other prisoner is being offered the very same deal. Each prisoner is concerned only with his own welfare—with minimizing his own prison sentence.

Prisoner’s Dilemma, book by William Poundstone

I have been wondering if the same dilemma applies to the situation of multiple people trying to get into a crowded bus. If one person pushes the other and gets in, he gets the seat. If the other one pushes, he gets the seat. But, if they both fight equally, the bus leaves. This may sound very absurd and unrealistic. But, believe me, for I have been there. If they both cooperate, they can share a seat.

Ideally, both should cooperate, right? As happens in developed countries (presumably). But, there is a threat that if some people don’t follow the cooperation, the ones who do lose out. That is why even highly educated and conscious people have to elbow others like savages. The solution is to ensure through external regulation that everyone follows the rules.

PS: These are just superficial thoughts and not rigorously analysed.