Public transport is the lifeblood of many cities and regions in England. It is vital way for the public, especially women, to access services, commute to work and connect with their community. Public transport in England also regularly makes headlines. The HS2 project has been garnering mass media attention, with talks of cancellation for the Northern route and billions of funding being put behind the project.
However, when we delve deeper into the experiences of women using these services, it becomes evident that the public transport system often falls short in addressing their unique needs and concerns.
Growing research shows that men and women in England have different patterns when accessing public transport. Yet, most funding, attention, and media coverage is spent investing in male-orientated methods.
This article will explore the unique experiences and barriers that women living in England face with public transport.
It is widely accepted that women often feel unsafe when travelling on public transport. The Office for National Statistics released results of a questionnaire announcing nearly half of women feel unsafe travelling alone in the dark. When studying the results of the 18-24 demographic, that statistic rises to a staggering 58%. Investing in small, yet effective methods to make women feel safer at night can make a huge difference. More staff in bus stations at night and well-lit bus stops on streets are key to tackling these safety concerns.
Navigating public transportation can be challenging for women with prams and young children. Having adequate facilities like ramps, elevators, and dedicated spaces for prams can make women feel at easy during their journey. Bus and train timetables are more likely to favour the 9-5 rush. Therefore, women who have different and multiple commitments often find themselves struggling to access reliable services at convenient times. It is important timetables are welcoming and inclusive for all.
Buses V Trains
Women take on average 3x more bus journeys to men. This is due to many factors, one of the main reasons being that women are typically the caregiver within the family. This means they’re more likely to take multiple journeys a day on the school run, going to do the food shops, and taking elderly family members to appointments.
Yet buses don’t get as much funding and media interest as trains. In 2017-2018, £18bn was invested in trains and less than £2.5bn on other means of public transport including buses. Intercity projects, such as HS2, gain a lot of media coverage, due to its ability to transport wealthy people (mainly wealthy men) from city to city, argues Women’s Budget Group.
HS2: A Missed Opportunity?
The HS2 project, a huge endeavour aimed at transforming the English railway system and increasing socio-economic prospects, could have been an opportunity to address some of these women-specific concerns. With it’s potential to improve connectivity and accessibility, HS2 could’ve played a role in creating a more inclusive public transport system.
However, it’s current purpose largely benefits wealthy, professional men travelling for work. With a government announcement scheduled for Friday about the possible cancellation of it’s northern-based Manchester route, its main demographic has now reduced even further. It leaves the question, when will public transport reflect the needs of women in England?
About The Women’s Organisation
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From learning new skills, boosting confidence and employability, or uncovering unconscious bias, we operate an extensive programme of events, courses and seminars, designed to empower women to take charge of their futures – as well as encourage employers to play their part in creating a fairer, more equitable future for women.
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