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