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Women Spend More on Public Transport Due to Safety Concerns

A new report shows that women in New York City spend $26 to $50 extra every month on transportation for safety reasons. This number increases to $100 more a month if the woman is her family’s main caretaker, bringing the yearly total $1,200 more than men.

The survey, which is based on the “pink tax,” sought to determine whether or not gender-based price discrimination existed within the realm of public transportation in the city.

Sarah Kaufman, associate professor at the Rudin Center at New York University (where the survey was conducted), stated that the inspiration for the study came from the #MeToo movement.

“It got me thinking about the day-to-day issues that women face in major cities,” Kaufman stated.

The study found that the experiences women face on public transportation around New York City might result in more expensive choices in order to get around. 75 percent of women surveyed reported that they have experienced harassment or theft while on public transportation, while only 47 percent of men reported the same. 29 percent of women said they didn’t feel safe taking public transportation at night compared to 8 percent of men and only 15 percent of women stated they felt safest on public transport.

One respondent to the survey stated: “It is REALLY hard to get around the city with children, even as an able-bodied person, particularly with multiple children.” Those women who are the primary caregivers to their family reported that these multiple trips a day then cost $76 more each month on public transportation.

The survey was administered online and, therefore, the demographics were not as varied as researchers had hoped. 93.4 percent of respondents held bachelor’s degrees, compared to the 34.5 who hold the same degrees across the city. This suggests the respondents had easy access to other forms of transportation that might make them feel safer, such as Uber or taxi, while lower-income women would likely not be able to afford to prioritize their safety while traveling.

Kaufman believes the issue of women paying more for public transport is likely happening in other places around the country as well. However, because of the amount of New York City residents who regularly use public transportation, the results may be more intense. But Kaufman and her team have a few possible solutions.

One example is to hire, train, and post staff in visible areas to handle harassment issues when they occur. Another is to promote women to higher levels within transit, so they are running the system and, therefore, creating a more positive experience for women travelers.

Not only are women facing safety concerns while using public transportation, they are often paying more to feel safer on their daily commute or to simply run errands. With greater representation of women in higher ranks of the transit system, perhaps change will start to unfold.

Featured Image by Rosalind Chang on Unsplash

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