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How To Stay Safe On The NYC Subway

How To Stay Safe On The NYC Subway When using public transport on a holiday, it’s always best to be on your guard. Thieves are drawn to tourists who are likely to be carrying large sums of money or valuables such as cameras, and crowded subway platforms offer the perfect opportunity for a chance robbery.
Travelling the New York subway, seeing the graffiti, and encountering some of Gotham’s stranger inhabitants, is all part of the fun of visiting the Big Apple. And it’s true that the subway has become a lot less dangerous in recent years thanks to the mayorship of Rudy Giuliani, who made fighting crime a priority, and the activities of the Guardian Angels. But robberies do take place on a regular basis still.
If you’re planning a visit to New York soon, and are likely to be using the subway, here are some pointers on how to keep yourself, and your property, safe:
Try and avoid travelling during peak periods such as rush hour - not only is this safer, because it’s harder for pickpockets to go unnoticed or disappear into a crowd, but you will also find it easier to get a seat, and enjoy a less stressful journey. Riding a long distance when you’re crammed in like sardines on a hot day is not a pleasant experience.
Keep valuables as close to you as possible. Wallets and smart phones should be in your hip pockets, and if you are wearing a rucksack bear in mind it could be opened without your knowledge. Either fasten it with a padlock, or switch it around so it’s on your chest. Straps can be cut easily by a determined thief so keep your camera in your hand while travelling.
Dangers on the subway are not always about robbery. There’s lots of steep steps, so take it slowly and use the handrail, especially if it’s busy. And keep well back from the platform edge at all times - at least 55 people were sadly killed by trains in 2012. If you feel yourself being pressed to the edge, move backwards or sideways in the crowd.
If you drop something on the track, even something of great value, don’t be tempted to retrieve it yourself. Find a member of staff to do it for you.
Watch out for the train doors. They don’t operate in the same way as lift doors which open again if there’s something blocking them. They shut and stay shut, with a lot of pressure, so the careless can easily be injured.
Always try and avoid travelling alone late at night. The New York subway is a lot safer than it was back in the 70s and 80s but bad things still happen. If your carriage is empty you may find it more comfortable to move into an occupied one. If you feel threatened, and can’t find a staff member, get off the train immediately and head to the street.
Don’t fall asleep, as you’ll likely wake up and find your stuff has gone missing. People on gap year travel are particularly vulnerable as it’s easy to nod off after a few drinks. And it’s also a bad idea to listen to music through headphones as you won’t be able to hear shouts of warning or important safety messages over the tannoy. Don’t listen to music through speakers either though, unless you want a disagreement with your fellow passengers. Maybe best to just turn the iPod off for a few minutes.
Try not to look too much like a tourist - act like you know where you’re going at all times even if you’re not sure, and don’t have expensive equipment or wads of cash on display as this is an invitation to trouble.
Rob is a veteran of the subway, and barely ever gets lost more than once or twice a week

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