Towards Transit Equity for Women

CityLab recently reported on Berlin’s Frauenticket promotion, which offered discounted transit tickets specifically for women. It’s not a coincidence that this one-day promotion happened 77 days into the calendar year on March 18th. This is the same number of extra days that a German woman would need to work to take home the same annual earnings as a German man. The Frauenticket price reduction of 21% is also equivalent to the average reduction in pay that German women receive for comparable work by their male counterparts.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

While the Frauenticket promotion only lasted one day, it raises the important point of gender-based inequities in transit access and travel experiences. On top of earning less to begin with, women and female-presenting people face threats to their safety—both real and perceived—when taking transit that translate to additional transportation costs that men don’t incur. Researchers at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation recently published a report called The Pink Tax on Transportation that highlights the additional costs women pay for accessing safe transportation.

Of the women surveyed for the report, 42% felt that for-hire vehicles were the safest choice for late night travel. This translates to an additional monthly cost of $26-$50 for women seeking safer forms of travel whereas men pay $0 for the same reason. Women who are also caregivers for children or the elderly can spend double that in order to ensure safe transportation options for the people they are responsible for as well. But paying these extra costs is only an option for those who can afford them, making women of lower incomes even more vulnerable when using transit.

With transportation accessibility linked to many benefits, including economic, health, employment, and community growth and stability, it’s critical that we consider the unique needs of all transit riders. Creating transit experiences that address the concerns of the riders with the most barriers equates to transit experiences that benefit all. Resources such as The Greenlining Institute’s Mobility Equity Framework can help translate these concepts into transportation planning in meaningful and effective ways. (PS – fans of The Greenlining Institute’s work can come hear this report’s co-author, Hana Creger, as a plenary speaker at the Urbanism Next Conference in May.)

Especially as we begin to introduce new forms of mobility into our transportation networks, ensuring that these modes are serving existing needs and goals will be key to making sure these innovations help us work towards transportation equity for all.

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