Passengers shouldn't be afraid to ride public transportation but it's an unfortunate reality that, sometimes, it is the case. Whether it's because of darkly-lit stations, long walks from a transit stop, or just feeling vulnerable that something might happen, some riders choose to find alternative transportation methods. Because safety is often of paramount importance to transit agencies, steps should always be taken to combat the impression that public transportation is anything but safe.
Among the most common first steps taken by transit agencies to improve passenger security is to install cameras and other devices in both stations and on transit vehicles. These cameras are not hidden, since people are less likely to commit crimes if they're aware they're being watched and recorded. The purpose of these cameras is two-fold; they prevent crime by observing people, and they make a record of events taking place on vehicles.
Transit agencies are also paying attention to what's called defensible space in locations they are responsible for. The idea, according to this source, is that a defensible space is one that has the fewest number of places to hide, which makes it less likely there will be danger lurking. This means there are no sharp corners to hide behind, and that there is a lot of glass and chain link instead of concrete walls that can make people feel hemmed in and claustrophobic. When combined with cameras and good lighting (because shadowy bus stops do not inspire confidence in people who have to wait alone) a defensible space will cut down on actual crime, as well as the perception that crime is a likelihood in a given place.
The ongoing progress of technology and mobile tracking, in particular, have enabled many transit agencies to offer real time information about transit arrivals. As long as someone can access the application via a phone or computer, then that person can get an update on exactly when transportation will arrive, reducing the amount of waiting and the exposure that comes with it.
Lastly, some bus lines have instituted a policy called a request stop program. This means that if the bus normally only stops at select locations a passenger can request that it stop anywhere along the route. This allows passengers (particularly single women who are often targeted as victims) to both avoid late night bus stations and to walk the shortest necessary distance from the bus to their final destination.
Will They Work?
These are just a handful of the methods that transit agencies are taking in order to make public transportation safer for everyone. While there has been definite progress, there is still much more to do. The goal though is, as always, to meet the needs of passengers quickly and adequately.