Whether it’s at work, on a night out, or riding the bus or subway, women face some sort of sexual harassment every day.
At a recent joint hearing of three New York City Council committees, – Transportation, Women’s Issues and Public Safety – the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials spoke about the cry from its riders for more prevention and enforcement of sexual harassment.
During the hearing, James P. Hall, chief of the NYPD’s transit division, spoke about the number of sex offenses and arrests since November 15, 2009, – 587 reports, 412 arrests – but added that he believes those numbers are “highly underreported,” according to a New York Times article.
Recently, I spoke with Oraia Reid, co-founder and executive director of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based RightRides for Women’s Safety, for a news story in an upcoming issue about the problem of sexual harassment on New York subways and the push for more enforcement. RightRides’ attempts to build safer communities by ending gender-based harassment and sexual assault through working with the community by organizing and offering direct service, safety education and advocacy programs.
Reid has experienced, firsthand, sexual harassment on New York’s subway system and has seen other people be harassed through either verbal or physical actions, who do not report the incidents. RightRides supports state legislation that has been introduced that will help better track and collect data on sexual harassment on the subway system and increased customer awareness, which the MTA aims to boost via ads, printed brochures and on-board announcements.
Obviously, passenger comfort is a top priority for transit agencies all over the nation. What do you do to ensure passengers aren’t sexually harassed on your system?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.