Public Transport Safety

Everyone has the right to travel safely on public transport, whether it is a rural bus, inter-city coach, national rail service, or taxi. Unfortunately, many people are using cars rather than the more economical and environmentally friendly methods of public transportation, claiming that cars are a safer travel option.

While in everyday life we do have the option to choose how we travel, once we go abroad we have to rely on whatever transport is available, especially when backpacking or doing some extensive sightseeing. We often hear horror stories of muggings in trains or baggage theft from buses yet many travellers use these forms of transport without experiencing problems. So how can we ensure our safety when using public transport?

Before visiting a country look for information regarding public transport crime to make sure this isn’t a regular problem. Some countries may be best avoided if public travelling is often dangerous. Criminals mainly target trains or buses journeying along popular tourist routes. This is more common at night and on overnight trains and coaches. Avoiding night travel and the more popular routes may be a safety solution.

Do not accept food or drink from strangers as this may be drugged. Lock your train compartment if possible or take turns sleeping shifts with travel companions. Tie down or lock luggage and secure any valuables to avoid theft. Many backpackers carry padlocks and small chains, which they use to secure their backpacks and prevent being robbed.  If you are travelling alone, sit in a compartment with plenty of people or stay close to the guard.

The same kind of criminal activity found on trains may also relate to buses. Robbers or conmen may target those using popular tourist routes. By avoiding these routes and asking locals for transportation advice, travelling becomes a much safer experience. If bus travel is essential then try to sit near the driver and stay on the lower deck if the bus is not busy. Avoid isolated bus stops or train stations, stay in well-lit areas and near other people and try to avoid waiting for long periods. Sort out cash or tickets beforehand so that purses or wallets are not on public display.

Do not be afraid to alert the authorities if you feel threatened in any way. In countries where public transport is unsafe, police are often assigned to ride on trains and buses along the more popular routes. Avoid confrontation by moving away from anybody who gets too close in a station, on a platform or in a train corridor. Avoid eye contact with anyone who looks suspicious.

Avoid unmarked taxis and only use those identified by official markings. Look for one licensed by the local council or authority.  If in doubt, wait for a more suitable taxi. Sit in the back seat when travelling and stay alert to surroundings. Be polite but not over friendly and if possible, travel with company.

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The Travel Insurance available herein is arranged by Downunder Insurance Services Limited with URV, Branch Office of Union Reiseversicherung AG for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland Registered in England & Wales, Company No: FC024381, Branch Number BR006943, a public body corporate with limited liability. Registered Office: Maximilian Strasse 53, D-805330 Munich, Germany. Registered Number: HRB 137918

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