Women’s History Month: our Gender Action Plan

With Women’s History Month underway, we wanted to post today about our Gender Action Plan (GAP) that was approved by the Metro Board of Directors last fall. The plan’s goal is simple: make riding Metro a better experience for women riders.  

The GAP is a direct response to our How Women Travel study in 2019 that found that our system could better meet women’s needs in a myriad of ways.  

That study, in fact, was prescient: the percentage of women riding Metro has dropped since prior to the pandemic — a sign that it’s well past time to take action. The good news is that we’ve already launched some projects and programs that we feel will help. These include:  

•The Metro Ambassadors who help our riders navigate the bus and rail system, identify safety and cleaning issues that need to be addressed and provide a visible presence on buses, trains and in stations. 

•The Ambassadors are part of our broader effort to reimagine public safety on the Metro system that also includes more cleaning, maintenance, security and homeless outreach to help everyone feel safe choosing Metro. You can read more about our reimagined public safety work by clicking here

•Work is also underway to install new blue light callboxes, better lighting and new security cameras. 

•Our Board of Directors in December approved approved a new fare policy that simplifies Metro fares and caps fares so that no customer overpays for riding Metro buses and trains. That helps women and all people who take frequent, short rides for errands and such.

•As part of our NextGen plan that revamped the Metro bus system, we put an emphasis on adding more frequent buses during the mid-day hours — when many women are riding. This will reduce wait times at bus stops and help everyone get where they’re going more quickly. Because time is often money. 

We allow unfolded strollers on buses.

We also put reserved seating decals on buses and trains to encourage riders to offer their seats to disabilities, pregnant women and parents with young children.

We believe we have made some progress — although we know there’s a lot of work still to do. We’re also pleased that the GAP makes Metro the first major transit agency to monitor and evaluate customer experience outcomes through a gender-oriented lens. We know the transit industry is closely watching our efforts to make evidence-based changes to benefit women.  

An excerpt from the GAP.

The sad truth is that with distinct travel patterns and amplified safety concerns on transit, women’s needs have historically been invisible or missing when it comes time to designing transit and other mobility systems. The GAP establishes a framework and implementation plan for changes that we need to make. 

Drawing from best practice research from within the transit industry, input from focus groups and public outreach, and analysis of recent data sources, the GAP defines actions and desired outcomes strategies and programs centered around four themes: safety; station, stop and vehicle design; fare policy, and; service frequency and reliability.

Here’s how we approached compiling info for the GAP:  

Gender Audit  

A gender audit revealed existing opportunities for improvement within Metro’s control. The audit showed each effort’s strengths, and gender-focused opportunities for improvement. 

Metro Advisory Committee 

We wanted to know how staff felt — and some of the obstacles involved to making improvements necessary. So we held interviews with Metro departments to hear the unvarnished truth and figure out what we could do — and how fast we could do it.  

Best Practice & Transit Agency Workshops  

Research and interviews were conducted with other transit agencies to gain a deeper understanding of their gender-inclusive practices (or lack thereof!), and three virtual workshops were held with 11 peer transit agencies to gain insight into their practices. 

Community Engagement  

The GAP’s goals and strategies are built on a two-way partnership with Metro and the communities we serve. Metro engaged key stakeholder groups to solicit input and feedback using: 

  • Community Workshops 
  • An online Survey 
  • Comment Cards  
  • Focus Groups  

The goal was to find out what we could do that would best meet the needs of women riders. The research was designed to connect with women riders, gender-focused community groups and riders at large. We also placed an emphasis on women who may experience marginalization due to their housing status, race, ethnicity and/or a disability. 

Gender Analysis Tool 

The GAP starts with an overarching strategy, a gender analysis tool — the GAT. The GAT may sound wonky but it aims to be a tool that we can use going forward that forces us to consider whether our policies, programs and projects will truly help women.  

Some of the findings from the GAP.

The assessment tool will be used when we launch all of our work. The idea is to get it right the first time — in other words, so we can incorporate best practices before programs are launched or projects are built. 

Following the gender analysis and community engagement, Metro has identified a number of strategies that together form the GAP.  

The GAP strategies are core to Metro’s commitment to ensure concepts of gender equity are infused throughout our agency. The strategies reflect the vision and goals of the GAP — to raise awareness, consider diverse perspectives, address gaps, improve services for women riders and, most important, create measurable progress toward gender equity.  

In addition, the GAP implementation team is working on implementation various strategies (listed below by themes) including a Safety assessment of our station with riders. 

The next step for Metro is to work with departments to implement the GAP and report back to the Metro Board annually. The improvements in the GAP will improve travel experiences for women and benefit the experience for ALL Metro riders. 

2 replies

  1. How is it that the first link in the article been broken for an entire day, and nobody notices? I presume it is supposed to be a link to the full-text report.