I’m very familiar with public transit--I’ve ridden the bus with my parents my whole life, and on my own since I was thirteen. Recently, I went on a trip to another city, which unlike where I live has a subway. Before I left, I researched its transit system to learn how to use it and where to go. I hope some of my experiences are helpful to any of you who need to use public transit.
First, you’ll need to know where to get on and off. You can look up the city’s transit system and find a map--there’ll likely be one on the system’s website. There you can see the different routes and where they go. Depending on where you’re going, you may only need to take one bus/train, or you may need to transfer. If you have to transfer, you may be able to wait for your connection at the same stop or station, or you may need to walk to a nearby one. It’s important to check the destinations of routes and see which you need to take (e.g., eastbound or westbound), so that you get where you’re going. If you do go the wrong way, you’ll often be able to get off and transfer nearby to a bus or train going in the right direction. Google Maps is useful for finding stops, because it shows stops that schedules and system maps may not.
You’ll also need either a pass, or money to pay for the ride. Again, you’ll likely be able to find this information on the transit system’s website. Different kinds of passes can include single-ride, multiple (for example, 10) ride, single-day, 7-day, 31-day, etc. As you can see, some are limited by number of rides, which in my experience are better when using public transit less frequently or to use as a backup, and some by length of time, in my experience better for times when using public transit more frequently,
On buses you’ll often swipe your pass/pay when you get on. This isn’t universally applicable (for instance, I’ve taken buses where you swipe a machine at the stop before boarding), so you may want to look it up or ask someone with experience. Once you’re on, find a seat. If there are no available seats, there will likely be something to hold when you stand. On buses, there will be a way to signal the driver when your stop is coming up; for instance, ones I’ve been on have cords running along the windows to pull for your stop. Shortly before your stop, signal. The driver will stop the bus at the next stop, and you can get off.
If anyone has questions or wants to share from their experiences (without mentioning specific locations!), feel free to share in the comments!