The days are finally getting longer here in the Northern Hemisphere, but you might still find yourself commuting in the dark for a few weeks yet. Or maybe you’re a public transit regular who uses the bus to get home after a night out. Let’s talk about safety when you take the bus after dark…
Know the schedule
Don’t get to a stop earlier than you need to. If you miss a bus, have a back-up plan before hand so you know where you can go (a 7/11? an all-night gym?) quickly and safely so you can make other arrangements (or just wait for the next bus).
Reader Sara also advised us of a useful app if you’re in the Seattle, Atlanta, New York, or Tampa area: One Bus Away gives you real-time transit information on your phone. Lots of municipalities offer similar apps, so make sure to check to see if yours does, too.
Signal the driver
Reader Cass had this tip:
General tip if you’re bussing in the dark (early morning or evening): to make sure the bus driver sees you, turn on the flashlight in your phone as the bus approaches to indicate you are there.
This is one of the tips the city bus drivers give here, since so many make their commute during dark hours.
And while I don’t expect you to add reflective tape to your outfits, visibility while walking to and from your stop at night is important. Keeping a flashlight or your phone’s flashlight on can help you be seen by oncoming cars, too.
Let the driver know this is your commute
If you will be a regular on this bus, let the driver know. Chances are they will be your driver regularly, too. This can help avoid the bus driving past your stop three minutes ahead of schedule when the driver thinks no one is going to be there.
Make use of courtesy stops
Many public transit operations will offer courtesy stops — stops between regular stops — after dark. Ask the driver if it’s possible to be let off closer to your destination so that you don’t have as far to walk.
Wait until you get on the bus to pop your headphones on
Headphones limit your awareness of your surroundings. When the streets are deserted, this becomes much more critical to your personal safety. My strategy is to have my headphones on, but not have any music playing. I can still hear, but I look… shall I say… less approachable for unwanted discourse. Oh, and don’t get too distracted by your phone. You don’t have to be paranoid, but you should be vigilant.
Let someone know what your schedule is
If it’s your regular commute, let your employer or a friend or family member know what bus you usually take, which stop you wait at, and what time you wait. If you’re leaving someplace late at night, text someone to let them know you’re waiting for a the number whatever bus at this stop. If nothing else, it can give you (and your loved one) peace of mind.
What other tricks and apps do you know about to help you safely make your dark-time commutes?