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Police Force Joins Debate Over Safety On City's Jitneys

By CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter cnixon@tribunemedia.net AS The Tribune's campaign to reform public transportation rolls on, the Royal Bahamas Police Force is weighing in on the debate. Members of the public who took part in last week's tribune242.com poll voted overwhelmingly for more training and certification of drivers as the most important change needed, but the police say passengers have a vital role to play too. According to a survey carried out by Southwestern Division officers, more awareness on the part of those who use jitneys can help create and maintain an atmosphere of "tranquility and orderliness". In particular, the study said, passengers must take responsibility for their own safety while on the bus, and can do so by heeding the following tips: * Find an aisle seat, avoid sitting right next to the door. * Avoid displaying expensive looking watches, rings, necklaces, or other jewellery while riding the bus. This only invites trouble. * Pay attention to the behaviour of others around you. If you feel uneasy or threatened, change your seat, and/ or alert the driver. * Beware of noisy passengers arguing or causing a commotion. This could be a diversion to distract you while others try to steal your valuables. * Keep your purse, shopping bags, backpack, packages or other belongings in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet. Do not leave them on an empty seat. * Do not fall asleep or get too distracted by other things. Lack of attention can make you a victim of crime. * Have the exact money for your fare, so you will not have to fumble around with your money when the time comes to pay. * Pay attention to everyone getting off at your bus stop. * Plan your trip properly, and let a close friend or family member know where you are going. The study said these tips should help both drivers and passengers experience a relaxed ride, but everyone using public transportation should still remain alert at all times. Members of the public agreed that passenger safety on buses must be improved, 107 people voting for this as the biggest concern in the tribune242.com poll. However, they were out-voted by the 220 who said the attitude and skills of bus drivers is the factor most in need of improvement. In addition, 91 voters thought something should be done about the high number of bus companies in operation, and 47 voters thought the road worthiness of vehicles should be the top priority. The majority of readers commenting on the poll expressed their support for far-reaching changes to the public transportation system.

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