Don’t Let Public Transportation Delays Ruin Your Day — Or Your Career!

“I just got a new job and will be taking the bus to work. When the bus is supposed to show up and actually shows up are completely different — it can be really unpredictable, and I’m worried I may be late occasionally. How should I address this with my boss?” Joe from San Francisco, CA

Taking public transportation can be a blessing and a curse. While you are reducing your carbon footprint, saving money and gaining back time in your day as you tear through recent best sellers, you are at the mercy of the someone else’s schedule and delays. When you use public transportation to get to work, the uncertainty can be stressful.

You cannot control the bus, but you can alleviate some of the stress and position yourself as a responsible employee.

  • Give yourself plenty of time. If there is a bus that will get you to work at 8:59 and one that will get you there at 8:45, and you are supposed to start your day at 9, take the earlier one whenever you can. You — and your boss — will be happier if you arrive at work ahead of schedule and in a pleasant mood.
  • Explain your situation. When you start taking public transportation — whether it is your first day or your 100th day at work — let your boss know. Explain that you will plan to be at work on time, if not early, but circumstances may arise that delay you. This way your boss will not be caught off guard when you are late.
  • Alert your boss about delays. When the day comes (and it will) that you are running late due to a transportation delay, let your boss know as soon as you can. If you have a cell phone, call or email at your first opportunity while in transit.
  • Prepare for your morning the night before. Everyone can benefit from some advanced preparations, regardless of how they get to work. Especially if you have an early-morning meeting or a tight deadline, it helps to set up as much as you can the night before. Take five minutes before you leave to print out or arrange anything you might need in the morning. Keep your files organized in a way that you can find them quickly and easily. If you have a team meeting or presentation, make sure someone besides you has access to the materials.
  • Check in remotely. If you are running very late and feel like you are missing something, check your work email or voicemail from your cell phone. You have all the time in the world to respond while sitting on a bus, so why not take advantage?

Millions of people take public transportation every day, and if you are in an area where it is prevalent, many of your coworkers probably do as well. Ask them how they prepare and keep calm when they get delayed.