How to travel around campus safely after dark

If you don’t have a driver’s license, live far away from campus or just want a cheaper (and cleaner) alternative to driving, public transport is a great service to take advantage of to get you to and from university safely.

But late class times mean sometimes you need to catch public transport in the dark. Whilst public transport options generally have safety measures in place, for many this can still be a daunting prospect. In order to put your mind at ease and make commuting safer, University of Newcastle Security Services are here to help. We spoke with Jamie Daniluck, Manager of Safety and Security Services at the University on how you can stay safe.

Plan Your Trip and Have A Backup 

According to Jamie, security starts with you. “Security starts with the individual. It’s important to put in place safety strategies, making sure you plan appropriately your travels to and from campus, and…that applies to anything else you do outside, including catching public transport.”

Be organised and know the running times for the public transport you’re choosing to catch. Have a backup option if these services run late or break down and let someone know your travel schedule. By contacting a family member or friend when you get on and off, they’ll know when you’re safe and when to start looking if they don’t hear from you. Preparing in advance and knowing you can rely on someone if you’re in any trouble will give you confidence that your trip will be a safe one.

Jamie also recommends implementing simple strategies to limit how far you need to walk at night. “If you’ve got a vehicle during the day…you’ve parked quite a distance away from campus, as cars move on after business hours, try to move your vehicle closer to campus.”

Follow The Light

When walking around campus at night, Jamie advises against walking alone, recommending “walk in well-lit areas in well populated areas, no dark laneways or alleyways”.

While walking with a friend would be ideal, often this is not an option. For this reason, the University has a  safe walk service available.

“It’s sort of an after-dark service we offer whereby if people feel unsafe for whatever reason, we will attend to them and escort them to their motor vehicle.”

Where possible, minimise the amount of time you are waiting for transport services in the dark, and when you get off at the other end organise for someone to pick you up or walk with you to where you live.

Walk Smarter Not Harder

You may have noticed ‘Smart Path’ plaques on the ground when walking around Campus and wondered what they are for. As part of the Security Improvement Program a number of safe pathways have been identified and labelled. These are walkways that are highly trafficked, well-lit, clear of vegetation and are monitored by CCTV surveillance.

These pathways are clearly marked and are patrolled 24/7 by the friendly security team. You can find a map of these paths in the myUNI app, which allows you to see your location in real time and your proximity to the Security Help Points just in case you need help along the way. A copy of the Smart Path map can also be found online.

Use The Transport Services On Campus

The University of Newcastle has a number of free services that can help you safely get to and from transport stops. These include the shuttle bus and the University’s ‘Park and Ride’ service. For Callaghan, the shuttle bus operates between 8am and 12 midnight Monday to Friday during semester, and can take passengers to locations on campus and nearby suburbs including Jesmond, Shortland, Birmingham Gardens, Waratah West. For pickups after 6.30pm, you can call 0407 951 470.

For our City campus-goers, you can also catch the shuttle bus to and from town with 6 stops across Callaghan campus. The shuttle operates at 30 minute intervals during the peak period and hourly during the off-peak period. The service operates between 7.15am to 10.15pm weekdays, is wheelchair accessible and even has free Wi-Fi!

For Ourimbah, Port Macquarie and Sydney students, there are a number of well-lit bus stops and parking facilities around campus, and security services operating 24 hours a day.

DoubleMap, a free app, shows you in real time the location of the security shuttle, allowing students to better plan their travels on and around campus.

Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings and Keep an Eye on Personal Possessions

When choosing where to sit whilst travelling on transport, trust your instincts and stay alert. For people commuting early in the morning or late at night, it’s generally best to surround yourself with lots of people, sit at the front of the vehicle near the driver and choose well-lit sections over dark ones. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to keep chat about your personal details between you and other passengers to a minimum.

The same goes for travelling on campus at night. “The incidents – which are a rarity – involve individuals at nighttime travelling by themselves, carrying valuables, not paying attention, [and with] headphones in so they’re not aware of their surrounds,” Jamie said.

Make sure you keep close control of any bags, electronics or valuable items on you and keep them at your feet or on your person wherever possible. By knowing where your possessions are and discretely carrying anything expensive or valuable, you minimise the risk of theft and can feel comfortable that both you and your stuff are safe.

Know Who To Call*

So you’ve planned your trip, used the free transport services on campus, told someone you trust you’re safe and have taken all the right precautions. But what happens if something goes wrong?

If you feel you are in a compromised situation or see something threatening or suspicious, there a number of Help Point Emergency Phones located across all University of Newcastle campuses.

“At Callaghan you will see there is a variety. There’s some which are on a pole in the ground, others which are a blue box on the wall. At NeW Space, they’re different again, adjacent to each of the lifts on each of the floors. So we have security help phones on each of those floors as well,” Jamie said.

If you’re on public transport, notify the driver/operator as soon as possible, take note of the physical appearance of anyone involved, get off at the nearest stop and call the police. Make sure to follow up any incidents occurred when possible by contacting the company or transport service you were on.

For matters on campus, there are a number of security guards and security services operating 24 hours a day at all campuses:

4921 5888 (Callaghan), 4921 7962 (Newcastle City), 4348 4222 (Ourimbah), 0412 595 054 (Port Macquarie) and 8262 6488 (Sydney Campus).

*If you are in immediate danger, call 000 when it is safe to do so.

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