Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who Uses Transit?

I was fishing through the Statistics Canada website today and found this interesting chart of transit use in Langley Township and BC. The interesting fact was found under use by sex. In the Township, 670 females use transit compared with 645 males. In BC the numbers increase to 113,490 females vs. 81,655 males.

Walkers and cyclers also follows this trend with 940 females in the Township walking or using a bicycle vs. 820 males. Again in BC the numbers show 85,135 females vs. 82,510 males. These are the latest 2006 numbers. 

I was thinking about my recent trip to Portland and public transit use there. Using eyeball analysis I would say their transit use is 50% male and 50% female. The streetcars and MAX line trains all have very large windows, metal spacers between seats (unlike SkyTrain seats) and they are wider. All of these design elements increase your perception of safety. 

I've watched female passengers at the Langley City bus loop during daylight hours, while waiting for Nathan at times. They seem to be very nervous and constantly looking over their backs and at their surroundings, almost instinctively. In Portland I've noticed female passengers are streetcar stops to be very relaxed and at ease. 

I recall a time when I lived in Bangkok, Thailand. Buses were getting more and more crowded and transit planners decided to institute the "Microbus". These smaller buses took on seated passengers only and stopped at less stops during rush hour. Some were designated as female buses only, and male passengers were not allowed on these special designated buses. Soon after, "Lady Buses" were introduced. It was a popular service and there were many reasons for its success. 

These numbers and observations should remind us that good transit supports all ridership and should be planned with all users in mind. If a large percentage of females use the planned system, their personal safety both daytime and evenings should always be considered in the design and mode of transit. Perhaps this is yet another reason to consider Light Rail transit? 

In other news, our very own Nathan Pachal received a hat tip here on the Planning Pool Blog.

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