She's So Very Subway Savvy
...staying smart, staying safe
Your subway awaits
Whether you're travelling
by plane or train, the fastest, cheapest, most convenient
way to get to and from your travel terminus will generally
be the subway.
Make sure you travel
light (so you can negotiate any stairs) and plan, whenever
possible, to avoid peak traffic periods. Negotiating early
morning and late afternoon rush hours is never, ever fun!
- In Tokyo,
crowds are so dense during rush hours that special employees
wearing white gloves have been hired to help squeeze
as many people as possible on to the trains and to help
shut the doors after them.
- In London
and Toronto, late morning travellers are offered
an incentive to postpone their day's start. You can
buy a money saving 'One Day Pass' providing you begin
your journey after 9:30 AM.
Special Traveller's Tip:
Jetlagged and travelling in from the airport after
an all-night flight? Even during off-hours, when crowds
have thinned out considerably, never take your eyes
off your baggage. Experienced thieves wait for these
kinds of opportunities and can be out the subway door,
your suitcase in hand, in minutes.
is the subway not an option?
Canadian transportation survey revealed that it was those
women who hadn't used the subway on a regular basis that
were the most afraid to use it. Chances are a great deal
of their fears were unfounded and could have been softened
with just a little bit of extra knowledge.
once you arrive at your destination, familiarize yourself
with the subway system. Chat with the local women. Inquire
about the area you want to subway to. Is the neighbourhood
safe to walk in or is it smarter to take a taxi? Is it
wise to use the subway at night? Many hotels now have
a female concierge at their front desk. Ask what their
subway experiences have been. Find out if there are any
safety measures in place -- especially for the women traveller.
This can give you the added confidence you might need
to use the underground and it could save you a bundle
of transportation money.
- In New York,
there is an 'Off-Hour Waiting Area' in the subway station
which is marked in yellow and where passengers can always
be seen by the attendant collecting tokens.
- During rush hours,
in St. Petersburg, Russia, there is sometimes
a separate subway entrance assigned for female passengers.
- In Toronto,
every subway stop has a well-lit designated waiting
area (DWA) where females can wait for the train. This
DWA is monitored from the ticket collector's booth by
closed circuit TV and a voice intercom system. The guard's
car on each train stops right at the DWA so that female
passengers can always have a Toronto Transit Commission
employee riding with them and keeping an eye on things.
- In India
as well as in Egypt, women can take advantage
of the female-only sections in the subways. Seize the
moment. This can be the perfect opportunity to communicate
with local women and their children or find out more
about the country's culture.
Special Traveller's Tip:
in doubt-- I taxi! Especially at night, trust your
intuition and never take chances, no matter what anybody
else tells you. There are some cities where I have
had no problem riding the subway solo in the evening
(London, England and Toronto, Canada)
and there are some where it was an absolute no-no
for me (Chicago and New York).
more you know, the easier and safer it is...
where poverty is excessive and crime rates are high, or
in cultures where a woman alone is considered fair game,
it's a definite plus to be subway savvy. As you travel
around the world, it's wise to keep the following cautions
- Always have your
fare ready when entering the subway. This way potential
thieves never see where you keep your wallet.
- Keep safe. When
waiting on the platform, stand far back from the subway
- An experienced
pickpocket can usually pick a tourist out in a crowd.
Wear your purse over one shoulder with the opening flap
against your stomach so that it's impossible to get
into. If you're carrying a day pack, wear it in front,
- Don't tempt thieves
by carrying credit cards or money in a fanny pack. In
a crowded car, these pouches can easily be sliced open
with a razor blade and you will be none the wiser until
it's too late.
- Avoid remaining
in an empty car. If you find yourself alone, simply
exit one car and enter another at the first available
stop. Remember that it's generally the center cars on
the train that get the heaviest traffic and there's
greater safety in numbers.
- Avoid constantly
referring to your subway map on the train. This only
serves to advertise that you're not sure where you're
going. Instead, situate yourself so that you can study
the route map posted in the car. Or better still, pick
a woman in close proximity and ask for help in getting
off at the proper stop. Generally she'll become a mother
hen and get you exactly where you want to go.
- Don't draw unnecessary
attention to yourself by what you wear. Be culturally
correct and dress appropriately. Try saving that mini
skirt for parties back home. Muted colors and conservative
clothing always helps you to fade into the crowd and
stay out of trouble. For further information on culturally
correct clothing, click here.
crowded subway cars can be perfect breeding grounds
for antisocial behaviour. Some men will use this opportunity
to touch or pinch the female passengers close to them.
If this happens to you, make a fuss in any language
you choose. Point at the offender and chastise him in
a loud voice. He'll probably just slink away.
- However, don't
become so offended that you stop paying attention to
your belongings. It's a fact that women are often groped
on packed subways simply to divert their attention while
their purse or backpack is being pilfered. Be ever watchful,
ladies. Both pinched bottoms and stolen wallets are
Special Traveller's Tip:
When using the subway in developing countries and male-dominated
societies, make every effort to behave modestly. Wear
a fake wedding ring to deter unwanted advances and sport
sunglasses to hide your eyes. In some cultures, simply
meeting a man's gaze means that you welcome both his
attention and his company.
subway story will make you smile...
a cold winter's night in Montreal as I found myself on
the subway travelling back to my B&B in an outlying neighbourhood.
I was feeling a bit uneasy -- It was later than I usually
stayed out when I travelled solo. There were plenty of
people on the train when we left the downtown core but
as we moved further out, the car emptied quickly. To soon,
I found myself alone except for one other passenger --
a middle-aged, slightly inebriated leering lout who realized
the potential of the situation. He began by calling out
to me and trying to establish eye contact. I didn7
He tried again and again, each time just a little louder.
I retaliated by pulling my woollen cap down so that my
eyes were almost covered.
I hunched my shoulders, took a bag of chips from my backpack
and began stuffing my mouth and chewing loudly. Crumbs
spewed on to my coat and into my lap as I began to mutter
to myself in French. He stopped calling out and stared
in amazement at my gross behaviour. I continued muttering.
I swear that he looked relieved when he got off at his
(Source: Anonymous, Journeywoman files)
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