Many people are encouraged to use public transportation as an alternative to a personal vehicle because it is cheap, efficient, and environmentally friendly. In cities with large numbers of cars, public transportation can also take much of the work out of going somewhere, because people can hop off of a bus instead of searching in vain for parking. However, public transportation can be risky, especially on routes which go through dangerous neighborhoods, or for people taking transit alone late at night. By being aware of your personal safety while on buses, trains, and subways, you can greatly reduce the risk of theft or assault.
The most important way to protect yourself on public transportation is to be aware of your surroundings. Avoid using a cell phone or another electronic device, not only because it will distract you, but also because it makes you an appealing target for thieves. Try to stay awake, especially at night, and take note of the people sitting around you and their behavior. If you feel uncomfortable, move to another seat. If you are waiting at a bus stop or station, try to stay in the light, and near a public safety officer, if one is on duty. By being alert, you can protect yourself by preventing an incident.
It is also important to be aware of your personal belongings on public transportation. Try to keep the number of bags you have to a minimum, and keep valuables and important belongings close to your body. Keep wallets zipped in internal pockets to make them more difficult to steal, and keep your bags close to you. On crowded public transportation, it can be difficult to prevent people from handling your bags, but try sticking them under the seat or between your legs to make them less accessible.
When boarding public transportation, have your pass or fare ready. This will speed up the boarding process and prevent you from having to rummage in a wallet or purse, potentially revealing money or credit cards. If you are getting on late at night, sit as close to the driver as possible, and tell the driver if you notice strange behavior or you feel uncomfortable about another passenger. When getting off, make sure that you know how to get to your destination, and keep an eye on people getting off with you. Try to avoid poorly lit areas at night, and travel with a companion on public transportation, if you can.