For many college students and residents who live in Provo without a car and use buses as their major means of transportation, remembering the bus schedule and making it to the bus stop on time are top priorities.
However, as important as it is to know when the last bus going home leaves the bus station, it is also important to know how to stay safe on a bus.
According to Gerry Carpenter, Utah Transit Authority spokesperson, generally buses are pretty safe; crimes usually occur away from the general public. The most likely thing to happen on a bus is petty theft, such as when a passenger leaves something on a bus and it is picked up by another person who does not return it to UTA’s lost and found station.
He said passengers should be careful whenever they are traveling on a bus to keep track of their belongings. He said one of the most common reasons for people to lose items on a bus is because they put their belongings down and forget them when they get off the bus.
“You will be surprised at how many items returned to our lost and found every year, even thousands, where people just put down their sunglasses and then walk off and leave,” Carpenter said. “In many cases these items were turned into our lost and found and can be returned to their owners.”
UTA records show 2,270 items were returned to its lost and found station for Provo in 2010 and 2,270 items were returned in 2009.
Commuters respond to bus safety in different ways.
Chongsuk Lee, a senior from Korea majoring in clinical lab science and a frequent bus commuter, said she brings her backpack every day and keeps her belongings in it.
“I sleep [in the bus] because it’s early and long,” she said. “I bring my backpack because I just study, so whenever you have books in your backpack it’s kind of heavy, and I just put my backpack right next to me and just leave it there.”
Lee rides on a bus Monday through Friday every week to intern in Payson. The bus departs at 6:47 a.m. every day and the ride lasts about an hour.
“I think it’s pretty much safe because people are nice here,” Lee said. “In the bus, there are tons of different people. Some people have tattoos and some people have piercing on their nose or ears or eyebrows, but they are still nice because the reason they take the bus is to get somewhere, not to attack people.”
Another student, Krystal Enfield, a junior from Oregon majoring in linguistics, said she would hold her belongings close to her on a bus.
“I’d probably tuck it under one of my arms,” she said. “If it’s a wallet or something, I’d put it into my pocket.”
Carpenter said commuters should put their belongings away if they are trying to take a nap or might be distracted.
“Either in your pocket or in your backpack or whatever you are carrying, you know, tuck it under your legs; whereas if you set it aside, someone may be able to take advantage of that,” Carpenter said.
April Lee, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in accounting, said she sometimes falls asleep when she rides on a bus, so she will always hold her bag tight.
Carpenter also talked about how commuters can deal with emergency situations when riding on a bus. He said because the bus operators are constantly in contact with the controllers, if any sort of emergency occurs on a bus, they can communicate it quickly.
“We have a very good communication structure that tells us where the bus is because all our buses have GPS technology,” Carpenter said. “So we actually see on a computer screen where that bus is, and it’s very easy for us to get the emergency personnel [and] connect [them] to a bus if that is a situation [where] we need to make it happen.”
He recalled instances in which someone had a medical emergency on the bus, and the bus operators immediately pulled the bus over, called the radio controller, who then called 911 for emergency services.
Carpenter said commuters can also help when emergency situations happen.
“If you see something, we would always encourage the passengers to call 911 to report any kind of emergency situation and make that communication as quickly as possible,” he said. “But at the same time they are doing that, they can also notify the bus operators who can also communicate through our channels and we can get emergency personnel in a much more timely manner.”
Chongsuk Lee said she always keeps an eye on other people when she rides on a bus.
“I am not a strong person, so I don’t think there’s a lot I can do,” she said. “But at least I can keep an eye on them and notice what’s going on, and if [there is] something I could do, I will do it.”
More advice on bus safety can be found on UTA’s website at rideuta.com.