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The Fear of Transit

Fear of crime and uncertainty about safety keep many people from using public transit, according to a new study. But how should transit agencies react?
November 1, 2010, 2pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"A new study by Nilay Yavuz and Eric Welch of the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that these feelings are widespread and affect both men and women of all ethnic groups. The act of making oneself vulnerable in the public sphere is difficult to take not only for the most marginalized groups like the disabled and the elderly, but also for pretty much everyone else. People working in the transit field must remember that reducing fear of crime can play an essential role in promoting a sense of comfort among everyday riders.

Of course, it merits repeating the fact that you're far more likely to die in a car accident than you are to be murdered by a random stranger anywhere, let alone on a train or bus. Most transit crime is petty and even that is relatively rare. Nonetheless, the very visible aspect of crime committed on public transportation means that the general sense is that it is far more of a problem than statistics may suggest it is."

Some argue that the real issue is in the perception of transit as unsafe -- a perception that transit agencies might consider a public relations problem.

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Published on Friday, October 29, 2010 in Next American City
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