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Women 10 per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe in metro trains: Study

Women are ten per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe on metro trains, and six per cent more likely to feel so on buses, according to a study which may lead to better interventions to bridge the safety gender gap in public transport.    

PTI PTI
London Published on: March 26, 2020 17:32 IST
Women 10 per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe in
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Women 10 per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe in metro trains: Study

Women are ten per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe on metro trains, and six per cent more likely to feel so on buses, according to a study which may lead to better interventions to bridge the safety gender gap in public transport.

The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, assessed a third of a million passenger responses to Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSSs) from 28 cities across four continents.

According to the researchers, including those from Imperial College London in the UK, the largest difference between women and men's perceptions of safety was in Europe, where women were 12 per cent more likely to report feeling unsafe than men.

The smallest difference was in South America, where women were nine per cent more likely to report feeling unsafe than men, they said.

The findings, the study noted, highlight an important social issue that could be preventing some women from thriving both personally and professionally.

"Feeling unsafe can lead to social, professional, economic, and health problems for those affected.

In this case, women who feel unsafe on public transport might turn down shift work at certain times of day, or avoid social or work events that require travelling a certain route," said Laila Ait Bihi Ouali, lead author of the study from Imperial College London.

The surveys, the researchers said, asked passengers their level of agreement with various statements about availability, time, information, comfort, security, customer care, accessibility, environment, and overall satisfaction.

They said the response options are usually -- agree strongly, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, or disagree strongly.

To carry out the study, the scientists looked at 327,403 completed responses to CSSs from 2009 to 2018.

They also focussed on responses to three questions pertaining to feelings of 'security' and assigned numbers from one to five for each potential response (one for 'agree strongly; five for 'disagree strongly') to quantify the responses.

Comparing the scores between men and women, the researchers looked at whether they differed alongside characteristics like rates of violence on the network, numbers of cars per train, and busyness of vehicles and stations.

According to the study, around half of women surveyed felt safe on urban public transport -- 45 per cent felt safe in metro trains and stations, and 55 per cent felt safe in buses.

But they said women were ten per cent more likely than men to report feeling unsafe in metro trains and stations, and six per cent more likely than men to feel unsafe in buses.

The study also showed that women were overall less satisfied than men with public transport services, but the gap between genders for satisfaction was far less than for safety.

This, according to the researchers, demonstrates that safety is an important part of overall passenger satisfaction.

The study also noted that having more staff on metro trains may not be correlated with feelings of safety, but that more staff at stations were correlated with increased feelings of safety.

According to the researchers, quantifying feelings of safety on public transport with operators' own data may help contribute towards creating tangible goals, which they said operators could use to improve people's feelings of safety.

"We hope that by putting a figure on feelings of safety, urban metro and bus companies can take measures to boost women's feelings of safety and reduce the gap between genders," Laila said.

"Feeling unsafe on public transport can prevent people from living as they otherwise would at certain times or on certain routes," said Dan Graham, study co-author from Imperial College London.

"We hope our results will highlight the gender gap in feelings of safety and nudge transport companies to implement changes to help women feel safer using public transport," Graham.

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