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Survey guide developed help track harassment on transit

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Researchers at the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) have developed a survey instrument to help public transit operators collect data from passengers who experience harassment while riding.

California Senate Bill 1161 (2022) directed MTI specifically to create an easy-to-use survey. According to a press release from MTI, the goal is to gather more specific information about the type of harassment passengers face on public transportation.

“Despite wide-spread acknowledgment that transit passenger harassment is a problem, most transit operators don’t know specifically who is targeted, what kinds of behaviors are common, the scale of the problem, or how victims respond,” Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal, researcher and Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center, said in a press release.

Researchers reviewed literature on street harassment and current passenger surveys to create a recommended questionnaire. They also discussed potential drafts with transit operators and experts, eventually pilot testing the study with 329 bus and train riders.

MTI has listed the nine specific topics that the survey covers on their website:

  1. Whether a rider experiences street harassment.
  2. The frequency with which a rider experiences street harassment.
  3. The type of street harassment experienced by a rider.
  4. The actual or perceived characteristics that serve as the basis for street harassment experienced by a rider.
  5. Where and when a rider experiences street harassment, including on what mode of transit.
  6. Whether a rider experiencing street harassment is alone or accompanied by others.
  7. Whether a rider experiencing street harassment reports the incident
  8. The impact of street harassment on a rider, including whether and how they change their use of transit.
  9.  A rider’s perceptions of safety while using transit.

The survey should also document the following characteristics of the passenger: “race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, income, primary language, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”

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