Before you go, if you can, look up the city’s public transport system company on the internet. Their websites are usually very helpful with schedules, maps, bus/rail stops, etc. With route map in hand, compare that to where you actually want to go. Mark specific destination points on the map and familiarise yourself with the general layout of the city. Contact the service if you have any particular question that isn’t covered by the website, and download the schedule that pertains to your travel requirements. Note the service you want and then note one or two after that.
Once there, and with map still firmly in hand, you’ll realise that it all looks much bigger, certainly more overwhelming than it did on your computer back home. Ask questions if you’re confused. Most people are happy to help anyone that may be lost. Many of the larger rail and bus stations have HelpDesks, Visitor Information Areas as well. They are there to answer every single questions they possibly can. Do not go away until you are fairly confident you won’t end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
So, you’ve alighted from your bus or train and, oops, you’re meant to be outside the Natural History Museum not Madame Gin’s House of Sin. You have a few options:
1. get straight back on the bus,
2. run after it as it trundles on down the street,
3. ask someone for help or…
4. remember the maps in your hand? Figure out where you are. Maybe the museum is just around the corner.
5. If not, pull out your schedule and see when the next bus/train is due.
6. Hail a taxi.
Some other tips for mastering transportations systems are: checking how much they cost and if you need to purchase tickets [and what kind, for what areas, etc] at a ticket booth. If you pay the driver, do you need to have absolute correct change. Is there a conductor?
Which service is best for you? Train, bus or taxi? Does the city have trollies, trams or mono-rails?
Just remember not to lose your maps and, when in doubt, ask someone for help.