Transport User Voice – April 2022 – Experiences of women and girls

28 March 2022

How safe they feel on transport

“Being safe means being able to go about without hinderance or harassment on a day to day basis. To be treated civilly and to treat others civilly. Not to feel intimidated or threatened by the behaviour of other people.” 65-74, North East

How can women and girls feel safer using public transport?

There’s been a huge amount of focus on women and girls’ safety since Sarah Everard went missing, and was later found dead, closely followed by the murder of Sabina Nessa mere months later. These incidents of women going about their daily lives and never returning home was something that resonated with many and thankfully has led to action.

The Government launched its strategy in July 2021 to tackle violence against women and girls. As part of this Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) was made Transport Champion. It launched its strategy on Tuesday 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day and published recommendations that could help make transport safer.

To help with this TfWM asked Transport Focus to help give some contextual information, which we were glad to do. We quickly put together a preliminary piece of work to identify themes and possible future activities. We asked our Transport User Panel and invited others using social media, the Transport Focus website and by encouraging participants to forward invitations to other women.

We collected the views and experiences of 1282 respondents from across Great Britain. It is not a representative study and the percentages represent the views of our participants and not the general population, but they do indicate some interesting issues.

We found that the majority (85 per cent) thought about their safety when planning or making a journey. The types of mitigations that were taken included travelling (and not travelling) at particular times of day, using specific routes, avoiding certain types of transport or travelling with other people.

Negative experiences when travelling had stayed with some participants for decades and could stop women from using certain types of transport again, or at least being wary when doing so. Some talked about more recent experiences. The incidents described included sexual assaults, intimidating/predatory encounters, being physically assaulted or threatened and feeling unsafe due to antisocial behaviour (which included fighting, verbal abuse and vandalism).

To feel more safe those who answered our survey said that good lighting, visible staff who could be relied on to help and dependable transport would improve their experience. Being able to have personal space that is respected and in their control is most important. However, many women expressed that it is the behaviour of others that is the issue, and that’s what needed to change.

You can see the full report here.


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