Safe Use of Public Transit in Winter Weather

In bad weather, especially in snowy and icy conditions, government officials and the media often urge us to leave our cars at home and take public transportation. For the most part, this is good advice. But winter weather problems affect public transit, too. To avoid being injured when using buses and trains, it is important that you know the risks of traveling in inclement conditions. You should also be aware that, although winter storms can be hazardous, bad weather is no excuse for public transit operators who conduct their business in a careless manner that causes injury to passengers.

Common Sense on Buses and Trains

Regardless of the weather, several basic rules govern the safe use of public bus and train service.

  • Never run after or next to a bus or train that’s moving.
  • Always stand away from the edge of the curb or platform.
  • Hold children’s hands when trains or buses are approaching.
  • Wait for the vehicle to stop before approaching. Allow passengers to exit.
  • Watch the gap between the train and the platform.
  • Use handrails and handholds when moving about or standing in the vehicle.

Special Rules for Winter Bus and Train Travel

Icy, snowy and wet conditions, along with winter darkness, can create particular challenges for transit operators and passengers. Delays are inevitable and it is essential that you keep yourself apprised of changes in routes and scheduling. Some bus lines run less often in bad weather, or they may be limited to snow emergency routes. If snow or ice accumulation reaches dangerous levels, transit operation may be suspended until it is safe for it to resume.

Buses approaching a curb can slide sideways when roads are slippery. Stand back from the curb until the vehicle has come to a stop. Be aware that buses may have to stop further from the curb than usual and that you may have to cross snow and ice before boarding the vehicle. Always dress warmly in case you have to stand outside for extended periods. Be sure to make yourself more visible by wearing light-colored clothing or by shining a small flashlight.

For seniors, who may experience age-related decreases in strength, dexterity and balance, use of public transportation in winter can be risky. It helps to have bus fare ready when boarding the vehicle and to maintain balance by grasping handrails and handholds when a vehicle is turning or slowing down. Carry fewer packages so that one hand is left free to grasp handrails. It is also recommended that seniors allow themselves extra time to cross snowy or icy streets.

Injuries Can Occur

Although you might make every effort to limit your risk of injury when riding trains and buses in winter, accidents can happen. Municipalities and other operators of public transportation are required to manage winter weather hazards in order to make your ride as safe as possible. This means keeping riders informed of service scheduling and route changes. It also includes operating buses and trains in ways that minimize risk of injury to passengers. Transit operators cannot rely on the elements to shield them from liability if they are driving negligently and ignoring winter weather dangers. Snow and ice must be removed from train station steps and platforms in an effective and timely fashion. Commuter parking lots should be cleared of snow and ice accumulations that create slippery conditions and reduce visibility. And, although bus and train floors can become slick from snow and ice tracked in by passengers, transit companies must make reasonable efforts to perform regular maintenance to reduce the dangers of slipping and falling.

If You Are Injured in a Wintertime Bus or Train Accident in NYC

If you or a loved one are hurt while using public transit in winter weather, it may be because the vehicle company or operator did not take the necessary steps to reduce your risk of injury. Speak to a knowledgeable New York train accident lawyer who can determine whether the transit company or operator acted negligently in causing your injuries.

The personal injury attorneys at The Orlow Firm are experts in New York City public transit liability. They can help to make sure that you are properly compensated for medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care and lost wages. The Orlow Firm offers a free consultation and operates four offices across New York City for your convenience. They can go to you if you cannot come to them. To contact The Orlow Firm, call (646) 647-3398.