For Transit to Better Serve Women, More Data Needed

Understanding how women use transit does not just help make systems more equitable. It also guides policy and planning changes that benefit all riders.

1 minute read

February 7, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Subway Platform

Goran Bogicevic / Shutterstock

Research shows that public transit is not meeting the needs of women around issues such as safety, cost, and accessibility. "Yet it’s hard to know how different tactics [to improve transit] address different problems, because few governments and transit agencies take gender into account when collecting ridership data," writes Flavie Halais.

Transport for London is one agency that has regularly collected and analyzed data about women’s travel patterns. Other U.S. agencies are following suit, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which last year released an in-depth report about how women travel.

Collecting data on how women use transit can be challenging, costly, and time consuming. Still, it is essential to make transit systems more equitable, says Halais. "Big data is, ultimately, political. It’s about asking the right questions and also acting on the answers."

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