The surging average price of gas around the country is driving more people to use public transportation. This is also the case in the Valley as gas prices have surged to over $5.50 per gallon. According to city data, crime on public transportation has risen in recent years hitting a 5-year high in 2021. With more people using public transportation and crime trending upwards it is important to know how to stay safe when using the Valley Metro and ride sharing services. Before jumping on that bus, light rail, or calling an Uber consider these important travel safety tips to keep yourself safe when using public transportation.
Know where you are going
When getting on any public transportation know where you are going beforehand. Plan your route ahead. Once you get on the bus or train pay attention to announcements. On most public transportation the upcoming stop and cross streets will come over the speakers. If you are unsure of the best place to get off, ask the conductor or bus driver for assistance.
An easy way to track where your location is by opening the maps application on your phone and follow your path. The last thing you want to do is miss your stop and end up in a part of town you are unfamiliar with. Being aware of where you are will help you get to your destination safely and stop you from becoming lost.
Stay alert and awake
The best way to keep safe on public transportation is to be aware of your surroundings. When riding on a bus or the train, pay attention to the people around you and their behavior. Avoid using electronic devices during the ride because this will distract you from what else is going on.
If your trip is at night or is going to take a while be sure to stay awake. Falling asleep is one of the easiest ways for thieves to snatch your wallet or bag and be off the bus before you even know it. Staying alert can protect you by preventing a potential thief or other person from doing you harm.
Keep control over your bags
When riding any public transportation, it is always important to keep track of your belongings. This is especially important if you have multiple bags or if people on the bus have similar bags. It’s easy for a thief to switch out an empty bag for yours when they look similar.
Place your bags together next to you, or between your feet. If standing keep hold of your belongings tightly so no one can snatch them and jump off the bus before you even know what is happening. Hold purses and other bags with valuables close your body to prevent theft.
Know your exits
When on any form of public transportation, identify your nearest exits. In the case of an emergency, or the vehicle is becoming too crowded for your liking, knowing you closest exit allows you to get to safety as quickly as possible.
Get off if too crowded
When a bus or train gets full it can be difficult for you to watch and protect your belongings. Crowds are no traveler’s friend. In fact, they make it easier for pickpockets and thieves to steal from you. If you feel the bus or train is getting too crowded for your liking, get off at the next well-lit stop. Once off you can wait for the next bus or train or even call a taxi if you don’t feel comfortable getting back on the public transport.
Know how to call for help
The obvious way to call for help is by calling 911. However, many bus lines and trains have emergency buttons or chains you can press to call for immediate assistance. Identify these devices when you get on the public transport, so you know the easiest way to get help if you end up needing it.
Identifying the ride share vehicle
Ride shares are very popular and potential criminals have learned how to cheat the system. Always know the make and model of the vehicle you called. Also know the name of the driver and the license plate number. All ride sharing services provide this information within the app. When the driver pulls up check the license plate and ask for the driver’s name. The last thing you want to do is get in a vehicle without knowing who they are.
Safety must always be your priority when riding public transportation. By understanding where you are going and following these few safety tips you can keep yourself safe when riding public transport or using ride share services.
Author: Bill Herzog is the CEO of LionHeart Security Services in Tempe, Arizona. Herzog is an expert when it comes to business and personal security and has over 25 years of law enforcement experience.