Metro is soon releasing its annual customer survey. As was the case last year, the survey included a question asking Metro riders about sexual harassment. Specifically, the question asked riders if they had experienced unwanted sexual behavior including, but not limited to, touching, exposure or inappropriate comments in the past six months.
Twenty two percent of those who responded said ‘yes’ in this year’s survey. The question was worded slightly differently last year when the question asked if riders “felt unsafe” due to harassment in the previous month; 21 percent of rail riders and 18 percent of bus riders answered ‘yes.’ It’s also worth noting that 86 percent of this year’s respondent said they were generally satisfied with Metro’s service and 83 percent said they felt safe while waiting for their bus or train.
Metro doesn’t want any of its riders to feel that they’ve been harassed. The agency will soon be holding a media event and launching an awareness campaign that focuses on this message: if you believe you are being harassed, please report it as soon as possible to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), which patrols Metro buses, trains and stations.
The Sheriff’s Department phone number is 888.950.SAFE (7233) — all Metro riders should save that number in their cell phones. If you don’t have a cell phone or can’t get a signal, please use emergency phones that are located at all rail stations or ask the bus or train operator to contact the Sheriff’s Department.
Obviously, harassment is not an easy subject for any agency, employer or anyone who manages or patrols public places. The Metro staff report posted below offers some helpful context. A few takeaways and other salient points:
•Surveys conducted about harassment on other transit properties — and in society at large — indicate that sexual harassment remains a serious issue in many places outside of transit. In several cases, the majority of respondents to surveys have said harassment is an issue.
•In the 2014 calendar year, the Sheriff’s Department received 99 reports from riders related to sexual harassment with the LASD saying that 37 of those reports met the legal threshold for sexual harassment. Twenty arrests were made as a result of the reports, with offenses that included unwanted touching, indecent exposure and/or inappropriate comments. There were a total of about 450 million boardings on Metro buses and trains in 2014.
•Metro’s stance is that all sexual harassment complaints are legitimate and Metro and the Sheriff’s Department will take those complaints seriously. It also must be understood that not all complaints will necessarily result in an arrest. That said, Metro urges people to report any problems.
Categories: Policy & Funding