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While public transportation has come a long way as far as your safety and security are concerned, there are still a few tips you can follow to ensure you get to your destination as problem-free as possible:

  1. Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
    The bus schedule can get pretty confusing if you don’t know what you are doing.  Have your exact route planned out before you even step out of your home or office.  This way you will know where you need to be, when you need to be there, how long you will have to wait, etc.  One of the biggest dangers of public transportation is not knowing what you are doing, or where you are going. This makes you an easy target.

  2. Dress for Success
    When we dress for an interview, we dress to impress; when we dress for a night on the town, we dress to feel attractive; but when you dress to ride public transportation, you should dress down so not to bring any unwanted attention to yourself. This means avoiding expensive coats, clothing, watches, jewelry, rings, necklaces, etc. If you are going someplace where you need to look gussied up, bring separate clothes in a bag or where a nonchalant outer layer. This is one time when standing out in the crowd is not a good idea. Don’t invite trouble.

  3. Travel Light
    Packing light when traveling goes as much for those traveling long distance as it does to those who are just traveling across town. The less stuff you have to lug around the better. Less stuff is easier to carry, reduces your chances of being a target for thieves, and will help you stay focused on the task at hand, which is getting from A to B.

  4. Find a Moderately Crowded Section of the Bus/Train
    While you will want to stay clear of completely empty trains or buses, on that same token overcrowding can be a pickpockets haven. You want to have enough people around you to discourage trouble, yet not so many that you are being jostled around without control. Usually one of the best cars to situate yourself in when traveling by subway, is any of the ones towards the the center. This is a good place to also mention that you never want to leave any belongings in the seat next to you. While some people may think it discouraging unsavory souls from sitting next to them, it also puts their belongings in a position to be stolen easily. Keep all belongings in your lap, arm, or between your feet.

  5. Strategically Seat Yourself
    Where you are seated makes a big difference in your safety while traveling on public transportation. Most experts say that your best position is near the driver, but not so near the driver that you are close to the door (a thief may try to steal a purse or bag and make a quick exit). Find an aisle seat and stay there. This will avoid the scenario of becoming pushed against the window with no way to defend yourself or protect your belongings. This seat also allows you to get a complete view of what is happening around you.

  6. Stay Awake and Alert
    Books and magazines can be a great way to pass the time on a bus or train, but they also take your attention away from your surroundings and make you an easier target for thieves. This especially goes for those who have the tendency to fall asleep. Dozing off on a crowded bus full of strangers can be very dangerous unless you have someone with you to watch over you and your stuff. Play games in your mind with the people on the bus. Do whatever you have to to stay awake and alert.

  7. Observe the Behavior of Those Around You
    You can tell a lot about a situation just by getting a feel for your surroundings. Be weary of passengers who seem suspicious, argumentative, or talkative. One method thieves use is to thwart your attention somewhere while an accomplice steals your belongings. If something does not feel right don’t be afraid to alert the driver, move to a different seat, or move to a different area of the subway. But remember, the driver (or any public transportation employee for that matter) are not police officer’s or any other authority figure.

You should always be prepared to take care of any situation that may arise yourself, and the best way to do that is to be aware of the dangers of public transportation and prepared to deal with it. Always have some form of self defense at hand.  It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!