Reason #4 Most American’s Don’t Ride Transit
Lack of Privacy and Security

Compared with the aura of security offered by riding inside of an automobile, many people avoid transit because they feel vulnerable and threatened by other riders.

Crime, sexual harassment, and other invasions of privacy are common on metro systems throughout the world. Sexual harassment is especially bad on Tokyo subways, and a survey of 600 women transit riders in Paris found that 100 percent of them reported having been sexually harassed.

Such harassment often depends on the anonymity that comes with extreme crowding, but most American transit systems don’t get that crowded precisely because Americans won’t accept the invasions of personal space required for such crush conditions. Still, there are numerous complaints of sexual harassment on the New York City subway. Crime is rapidly rising on the DC Metro as well.

Crime, including thefts of smart phones, as well as violent crime, can be a big problem on light rail, partly because there is rarely anyone aboard to keep vehicles secure. Bus drivers presumably provide a modest deterrent to crime, but still there is the problem of bus-stop crime.

Some researchers argue that transit doesn’t really increase crime near transit stations. But for potential transit riders, perception trumps reality. A woman may only have to suffer one or two experiences with groping or other forms of sexual harassment before she decides to never ride transit again. A man who is beaten and robbed of his coat because the coat happened to match a particular gang’s colors is also going to avoid transit.

Some transit systems have designated women-only cars to protect women from harassment, but results have been mixed. Short of putting a guard on every bus and railcar, the issue of transit security cannot be easily solved.


7 thoughts on “Reason #4 Most American’s Don’t Ride Transit
Lack of Privacy and Security

  1. LazyReader

    GERMANY, Sweden and other European countries are facing growing public unrest amid a wave of reports of sexual assaults since the Cologne attacks. Drawing only from German media reports, the list documents more than 160 instances of rape and sexual assault committed by migrants in train stations, swimming pools and other public places against victims as young as seven. Europe has always been a public playground, almost all it’s famous venues are public. Public squares, public plazas, public transit……the result is they’re now considering sizeable spending to ensure greater security at public facilities but this is merely a token gesture, only putting a cop on nearly every train car is gonna have a decent effect.

    The media calls this a refugee crisis, I call that absurd. A refugee crisis is women and children, what were seeing is millions of able bodied 20 something men who’ve been raised most of their lives that women, children, apostates, non-believers (and Europe is a very secular) are of little value. When one such male raped a 10 year old boy in a indoor water park, he didn’t even flee the scene and stayed to continue swimming. When authorities detained and questioned him, his excuse was “He hadn’t had sex in months….”. No country in Europe (that I’m aware of) has a Constitution or a Bill of Rights protecting the right of an individual to keep and bear arms, tens of thousands of Austrians are applying for permits to purchase firearms for self-protection.

  2. paul

    I shared an office with a good looking 30 something woman who had to commute on BART in the SF bay area. She hated it not because of an actual act of sexual groping but because she often had people smelling of cigarette smoke, cologne of perfume, body odor, etc sit next to her. These were usually male. She then worked out that middle seats were usually taken by women so would try to sit there next to a woman. The whole experience made her hate her commute.

    When taking the bus from my mechanic to work I was usually the only white person on the bus. This was not usually a problem and certainly gives one and view of how relatively poor minorities live, which I regarded as a useful education experience, (as is volunteering at a homeless shelter). Once when waiting at a bus stop while changing buses a furious black man started yelling at me how I was a racist who hated minorities etc. Everyone else and I ignored him and I never felt physically threatened. Nevertheless it was a disturbing experience and one more reason not to take the bus.

  3. paul

    As far as women only goes, I note that in the San Francisco casual carpool: and
    Most of the people in line to take it are male, and most drivers are male. I have often wondered if more women would use the system if women only cars were acceptable. A women could drive in with a sign in the windshield that said “women only”. The women in line could then get in her car. Women would feel safer doing this and might get a faster ride not having to wait in line so long. Hope most men wouldn’t mind.

  4. scatcatpdx

    There is also health issue ridding mass transit. I have repository issue and find riding max and bus rather unhealthy. Being in a crowded bus and the Max train in Oregon are a germ factory, especially when people do not have to common courtesy to cover their mouths when coughing.

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