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STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2018 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility Safety and security CENTER: PSR

Public Transportation Safety Among University Students

Project Summary

Funding source: Caltrans
Funding amount: $112,385
Contract number: 65A0533 TO 010
Start and end dates: 2/1/2029 to 3/31/2020

Project summary

Sexual harassment is a common occurrence in transit environments, and female passengers are the most likely victims. While a robust literature has examined the social and physical parameters of transit crime, we know less about the extent, type, sites, and socio-physical determinants of sexual harassment in transit environments, and even less about effective strategies.

This study focuses on the sexual harassment experiences of university students during their public transit journeys. We focus on university students because this group is typically more transit dependent than the general public, and possibly because of their age, more vulnerable to victimization from sexual harassment than other adults. Focusing on Los Angeles, we examine the transit safety concerns and sexual harassment experiences of students at three local universities: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), and California State University, Northridge (CSUN). We inquire how these experiences may vary by gender or other individual characteristics; how they affect the student choices about using transit; and what type of precautions and behavioral and travel adaptations students usually take.

This study explores these issues drawing from a survey of 1,284 students from the three aforementioned universities. Students with transit passes at these campuses received an online survey link to a questionnaire involving questions about their experiences with harassment on public transit, as well as their general concerns with bus and rail transit, their perceptions of safety, and their travel behavior patterns. Additionally, we conducted interviews with representatives of transit operators in the Los Angeles area to find out what actions they may take to tackle sexual harassment on their systems. Lastly, we reviewed the international literature for strategies and practices against harassment in transit environments.
One motivation behind this study was to identify the possible solutions to the sexual harassment challenges that may affect the college students' use of transit. We, therefore, conclude this study with policy recommendations on how to mitigate sexual harassment in transit environments.


Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris
Professor of Urban Planning
Luskin School of Public Affairs
5387, Public AffairsLos Angeles, CA 90095
United States
[email protected]