Friday, April 3, 2009

The Others

John over at RT Rider has an interesting post about his observations of a lady who clearly didn't feel comfortable at the bus stop with folks that weren't like her. This comes on the same day that I have a discussion with a person I had invited to a concert next week. Since the show is downtown, I asked if we could meet somewhere off of Muni so she didn't have to walk through a somewhat seedy part of Market Street by herself. She responded that she didn't take transit. Oh she'd tried it a few times but transit had always let her down.

The first thing that came to mind was oh man, we are not going to get along, the second was, how much different is the transit riding experience to females than it is to someone such as me who is somewhat tall, somewhat driven to take transit, and can be a bit scary myself when I haven't shaved in a bit? Would ridership go up if the situation were improved such that females felt safer and more comfortable on transit? I know many girls that are pretty hardcore about transit and aren't worried at all. But then there are those that I know that don't like to take it, especially alone. I think improving it for those types would improve it for everyone. Is that a standard to meet?

14 comments:

John said...

Maybe Mexico City has the right idea: Women-only buses.

Robert said...

"The first thing that came to mind was oh man, we are not going to get along"

I don't know, man. You're limited yourself to a pretty small pool if you're only interested in women that take transit.

My wife, for one, does not like taking the bus at all. So we moved to where she could just walk to work -- problem solved.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Haha thanks Robert. :)

Ryan said...

You know, I seem to remember reading an article somewhere, or perhaps it was a conference presentation, where a PYW (pretty young woman) quotient was proposed for measuring the success of a transit system. His theory went that, if you could increase the number of young women who are often a)intimidated by certain members of the public and therefore more safety conscious, and b) perhaps slightly more fickle than your typical transit enthusiast, then you could claim that you had made the traveling experience more comfortable for everyone.

Perhaps the FTA would consider using the PYW quotient in place of the Cost Effectiveness measure?

Kyle - Boston said...

If what Ryan said is right, than the Green "B" Line in Boston, must be the most successful transit line in the country.

Tim said...

I know from taking transit in other countries that generally young women sit with grandmothers who have no qualms about dressing down an ill-behaving man.
Maybe the question is how we get more grandmothers on the bus...

Jon said...

ryan that sounds like a great measure. and that certainly ties into what john said about mexico city and also the woman only rail cars in japan.

also that dockers commercial a few years ago kind of paints the image that streetcars are where you meet your sole mate which has to help in the PYW ratio.

it also helps if the downtown is prosperous with trendy neighborhoods filled with young professionals.

clearly this 'just like me' thing is an important issue to address with anything relating to public spaces. you have to attract to transit the rich and middle class (which kind of ties into the UTA story above). sure you carry those without cars but you equally have to carry choice riders of decent means, otherwise the system wont amount to anything other than an underfunded underutilized stigma mobile. and of course this is why the new rail line that opens in a transit poor region is so critical.

Morgan Wick said...

I think we've just isolated the source of 50% of transit opposition. Odd that manly, more-horsepower cars would be most defended by females while the people starting to support moving to wimpy transit are male. I don't think I know of a single transit blog run by a woman. Or for that matter, a whole lot of regular transit blog commenters.

-- chase said...

A 50-something professor at the University I work at told me the other day that she was too old to ride the bus and that furthermore she couldn't because she couldn't plan ahead by 30 minutes. She was being serious.

njh said...

VTA light rail is full of nubile young women. You just need to move to a more hip (and nice hips too) part of the bay.

grvsmth said...

Ryan, the inventor of that measure was a man named Holly Whyte, founder of the Project for Public Spaces. According to Streetswiki, he wrote that women "more discriminating than men as to where they will sit, more sensitive to annoyances, and women spend more time casting the various possibilities."

grvsmth said...

BTW, Chase, probably the best known female transit blogger is BusChick.

Richard Layman said...

Not my photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/54607257/

The photo next to this in the stream is better: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/393972167/in/photostream/

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2005/11/making-transit-sexy.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2007/12/dj-nicoline.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2006/01/more-on-metro-and-rethinking-transit.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2007/02/another-idea-for-transit-marketing.html

Richard Layman said...

WRT designing for women, SF's own John King has a good piece about it, but there was another good piece in the NYT wrt Bryant Park:

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/04/28/DDGAECFM3F1.DTL

Also see, on "making transit sexy"

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2005/11/making-transit-sexy.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2006/11/interesting-transit-idea-volunteers.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2006/01/more-on-metro-and-rethinking-transit.html

and a couple photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/54607257/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/54607257/

and http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2007/12/dj-nicoline.html