Women across Europe are the majority of public transport users. Yet, because they take a greater number of shorter trips to dispersed locations at more varied times, the public transport costs them more in terms of money and time. What must be recognized is that these trips also have the potential to be less safe since many women must walk through, or wait in, unsafe areas in order to access public transit. Consequently, bus stops and their locations play a crucial role in perceived safety among female users. Researchers found that bus shelter characteristics (lighting, CCTV), natural surveillance (direct view, the view from the outside toward the inside of the bus shelter), and trustworthy real-time information are the most important factors influencing safety and crime perceptions.
Gender sensitive equitable transport is essential to create safe and liveable cities for all. Sadly, the report from the British Transport Police and the Department for Transport for England and Wales concerning sexual offences and harassment on public transport worldwide, shows that gender based violence is still very prevalent in public transportation, even more so in developing countries where perception of public space is still very male dominated. Buses, bus stops, underground, stations, trains, taxis and shared transport are like other public spaces – they are not experienced the same way by men and women. Recognising different needs of female users in policy development and design solutions is essential for women’s and girls’ ability to exercise their right to freedom of movement and their right to use and enjoy the city and its public spaces.
There are resources gathering scholarly studies and professional reports that provide recommendations for transport and policy planning. However, the problem is more systemic and stems from historical patriarchal power relations. Therefore, we need more public education and outreach messages to achieve cultural change and build the world in which everyone feels safe regardless of gender.
Abenoza, R. F., Ceccato, V., Susilo, Y. O., & Cats, O. (2018). Individual, travel, and bus stop characteristics influencing travelers’ safety perceptions. Transportation research record, 2672(8), 19-28.