How to survive on public transport

How to survive on public transport

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Perhaps you’ve just moved to a new home in a city which isn’t really car-friendly, or maybe you live in the suburbs but you want to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Whatever the reason, for those who have their homes in cities and towns with a public transport network, it makes sense to take advantage of it. For lots of people who have always relied on their cars to get them around, the idea of getting on a bus or a subway train can be quite daunting. So here are some tips to ensure you get through it without any difficulties:

If you live in New York, London or Tokyo, you probably don’t have to walk far at all to find your nearest subway station. In most other cities, you’ll be looking at a combination of walking, bus rides and subway trains to get to your destination. It’s the walking part of this that puts many people off using the public transportation system. For suburbanites, it’s much easier just to get the car out and drive door to door, there and back. But there is a simple solution to this without having to resort to your automobile:

Get yourself an electric scooter, or even an electric unicycle (as they’re more compact). You can use this to get yourself down to the nearest subway station or bus stop with the minimum amount of effort. Then just carry it with you on the train or bus until you get off. If there’s still a way to go from getting off the bus or train to your final destination, use the unicycle or scooter to get you there. Take a look at the different options available at And once you arrive at your destination, you don’t have to go through all the hassle of finding somewhere to park, paying for a parking ticket and worrying whether someone is going to steal, break into or vandalize your vehicle.

Planning a journey on public transportation can often appear difficult, especially when it comes to knowing which trains will stop at your destination and which will go straight through it. Thankfully there are apps available which can plan your journey in its entirety. Websites such as the one run by Transport for London, give you multiple solutions for your journey, combining walking, public bicycles, buses, tube (subway) trains and overland trains. Each journey gives you the exact departure and arrival times for each leg, plus the total cost, which can all be paid for with the swipe of your mass transit card. In this way, planning a journey on public transportation becomes much simpler than planning a journey by car.

Buying and paying for buses and trains can range from being extremely simple to excruciatingly infuriating. Cities with more developed systems allow you to pre-pay everything or pay by debit, simply swiping a card or, in some cases, your mobile phone as you enter and exit stations or board buses or trams. The option of paying for a paper ticket with cash is still there for one-off journeys and travelers. There are, however, some public transport departments that haven’t yet gotten it right – accepting only the correct change for a ticket and with long, unclear and confusing lists of timetables and stops, etc. If you find yourself in one of these cities and you’ve just about given up and are ready to hail a cab, hold on just a moment. Don’t be afraid to politely ask people. Chances are someone will be making the same trip as you and will walk you through the entire process. Once you’ve done it, it gets easier every time.

You might notice that strangers tend to ignore each other as much as possible on public transport. You should do the same. Staring at people is extremely out of the ordinary and you may be perceived as threatening. It doesn’t mean you can’t make small talk – many people will be happy to join in, but be aware that you may just be given the cold shoulder. To avoid uncomfortable situations, take along a pair of earphones and something to look at. You can often pick up free newspapers in stations for this. It’s unwise to close your eyes, sleep or become too distracted by something as you need to pay attention to what is going on around you. Some subway lines are risky to travel on at certain times. Try to sit close to the driver or conductor and stick to well-lit carriages. Use your common sense and street smarts and you’ll be fine.



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