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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guest Post: Surviving Public Transport Systems By Northern Raider

R44 stock of the New York City Subway remains ...
© 2011 Northern Raider

Can we as Preppers ever really rely on public transport systems especially URBAN systems? In the UK the vulnerable PT systems are compounded by the fact most signalling systems for controlling trains, and electrical supplies for powering electric trains are now regionalised. This means the power supply for the train you are on could be being supplied from over 50 miles away, and the traffic signals and points switching controlled from over 250 miles away.  EG a recent theft of copper cabling south of YORK stopped all trains moving as far north as Darlington and as far south as Stevenage.

As far as I am aware there is no reliable system of transport available to people ran by state, councils or private sector.

Most if not all transport systems can and are often held hostage to

Trade Union Action*
Power Cuts*
Vandalism *
Theft of signal equipment*
Police Incidents*
Inclement Weather *
Fuel Shortages*
Terror Attacks*
Landslides / Subsidence / Rockfall etc*
Political commandeering of system*

All marked * can see an incident over 250 miles away from your position stopping your journey dead.

All types of Public Transport are ridiculously vulnerable to frequent disruption and breakdown in service.

Then add lack of cleaning, lack of street lighting, bad routing, risk of robbery etc and the unfailing attraction of stations and bus depots to thugs and criminals.

Poor or non existent maintenance all affect cycle and walkways from being suitable for regular use over any meaningful distance, cycles at the very least need puncture proof tyres and suspension systems to be any use.

So are public transit systems ever going to be RELIABLE and FREQUENT systems of transport…….I think not.

That is also without considering the health risks we are exposed to on using public transport, from the spreading of infectious diseases such as untreatable TB,Flu etc to picking up fleas and lice from incorrectly cleaned upholstery on seats.

Under and Over

Today we find many public transport systems run either underground or on elevated tracks which makes escape during an incident even more hazardous.

The prepper and survivalist has no other option in reality other than to use their own transport to get around, and as the population increases along with fuel costs, rising crime and civil unrest, the prepper is going to need to  put more effort and resources into their own transport needs.

But if you must use Public Transport you need to plan and prepare carefully, a few suggestions are listed below.

We all at some time use trains, buses and planes and with a bit of forethought you can reduce any risks you may face to more manageable levels.

For example  if you are travelling by train or bus ensure you have a current time table , and study it, because if for example the bus you want (say number 50) is cancelled just as you arrive in some strange town, you may find the 55 is going to the destination but by a different route.

Always check BEFORE setting off that the public transit system at your destination town is running.

Always have the phone number of a couple of Taxi companies in your destination town in case the public transport system fails.

When travelling at night or on systems that run underground or through tunnels always keep a mobile phone, pocket flashlight and a few chemical light sticks on your person and perhaps a spring loaded glass breaker. If the power fails you don’t want to be trapped in a vehicle in the dark with an ever more panicky group of fellow travellers.
A small AM/FM radio is recommended to keep updated on travel news as well.

If you are travelling by plane or train in the UK and want to take your “essential” tools with you then you face the problem of security checks.

One option is to POST your essential kit to your destination in advance of you travelling, I often collect packages of “”Computers bits I forgot”” from the hotel reception desk.

If possible don’t fly or use mainline railway stations that way you reduce the risk of attracting the attention of the authorities and frequent baggage checks.
Think about leaving the lock knife at home in many cases a tactical hard alloy flashlight with a serrated bezel edge is a better defensive tool than a knife AND TOTALLY LEGAL.

If transferring from one transit system to another after dark and you are concerned for your safety (EG leaving a bus to enter a train station) ask the bus driver or station assistant to watch you until you board the bus or enter the safety of the station.

If the bus stop is not right outside the station entrance most bus drivers will if asked nicely stop the bus in front of the station to allow you to alight in safety.

When leaving the safety and bright lights of stations and bus depots switch on and pay attention to your surroundings, are you being followed? Is someone stood close to your car? Is the guy in the shadows a businessman or a thug?

On the train itself try and sit close to the guard / ticket inspector or in a carriage with other travellers in it. Dont isolate yourself in an empty carriage because that is just what muggers look for.

When possible its prudent to carry with you a good LED powered flashlight, Chemical light sticks, multi tool, pocket knife, a few disposable dust masks, a drink, route planner and time table, mobile phone, compass and a map of your destination town. (Especially a tactical flashlight with serrated bezel if you have to leave your knife at home)

Keep your purse/ wallet in your front pockets not in your bag or back pocket, this makes life much harder for pick pockets, also ideally you will keep your essentials on your person (cash, tickets, phone, flashlight etc) so that if your bag is stolen or snatched you don’t end up with no money, ticket or method of calling for help. When possible keep both hands free of luggage and keep should and grab bags to your front.

I keep my Fenix LD20 flashlight palmed or in the elasticated cuff of my jacket when leaving stations etc.

Cover up your Bling, PDA’s, Blackburrys, I Pods etc You are not trying to advertise you have valuables on you to anyone.

Never get stuck in a city centre without access to a good pair of broken in walking shoes and a rain/ wind proof jacket.

When approaching a transit point such as a train station, bus depot etc, If you see a large group of youths, strangers, soccer fans, gangs etc hanging about and you can not enter the station without risking trouble then go away and wait a while until they leave, Its better five minutes late on earth than fifty years early in heaven.

Remember as a Prepper the best method of transportation is one you are in control of, IE your own vehicle.

If there is a possible risk that issues such as terrorism, industrial action, severe weather etc may leave you stranded it is wise to have with you as much information about possible transit routes out of the city as possible. And do consider making the journey some other time if possible.

For example a small road map, cycle route map, canal route map, rail route map, even a map showing the direction of electricity distribution pylons, storm drains etc can help you navigate your way to safety.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS if something does not look or feel right the chances are your instincts will keep you safe.
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