Thursday, March 13, 2014

Winter weather and mass transit: Tips for a safe commute

WMATA riders exit train into snow shower.
Photo: Patrick Benko/APHA
Many of us use public transportation to get to school and work. During the winter, it’s especially important to stay aware, because winter weather can hit unexpectedly and complicate your daily commute.

In our latest podcast, APHA’s Get Ready campaign speaks with Caroline Laurin, manager of media relations and deputy chief spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, about the importance of being prepared for winter weather during your commute via mass transit. The transit authority is responsible for bus and metro-rail service in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region and is the second largest transit system in terms of the number of daily riders.

“Whenever you have a commute in unfortunate weather, it’s always best to plan ahead,” Laurin says. “We encourage our customers to dress warmly and give themselves extra time because trains might be running a little delayed and you don’t want to get late to wherever it is you are heading.”

Snow and ice build-up can affect bus and train routes and throw a wrench into your usual commute. It’s a good idea to know an alternate way to get to and from your destination before setting out. Generally, you can look up multiple, alternate routes from your transportation provider’s website.

“Being familiar with your surroundings and your transportation service is a good idea,” Laurin says. “It will never hurt to know that if you can’t get home using your usual route, another bus line may get you home.”

Your commute may involve waiting outdoors for a bus or train, especially if the weather causes delays. Remember that when you are in cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce it. To prevent heat loss, dress warmly in moisture-resistant layers, including jackets, coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots.

“If you have the option and can get to where you are going before the worst of the weather hits and if you have enough warning, that is something we would encourage,” Laurin says. “However, we do understand that weather can hit unexpectedly or more fiercely than anticipated.”

Listen to our podcast with Laurin online now. For more tips, check out our Get Ready winter preparedness fact sheets.

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