Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit
Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit

Let’s make transit safer for women in Burlington

Mar. 8, 2024

We can make transit safer for women
On International Women’s Day, we present some thoughts on making transit safer and more practical for women.

By Zara Paris

Women – especially elderly, low income, and immigrant women – are more likely to use public transit than men.

For low-income workers especially, their reliance on public transit does not change with lack of accessibility. Low-income employment areas like retail plazas and industrial parks tend to have poorer active transportation connections and are surrounded by roads with high-speed vehicles.

According to the Burlington Integrated Mobility Plan, only 55% of streets in Burlington’s industrial parks have sidewalks, making it difficult for workers in the area to walk to and from bus stops. However, with no other option, these workers are forced to endure a difficult and dangerous commute to work.

Women’s Unique Travel Patterns

Beyond using transit as a means to get to and from work, women tend to take several short trips in a day for household errands and link trips together.

For example, a typical daily ‘commute’ for a woman using transit might be taking the bus to drop her child off to school or daycare on her way to work, then picking them up and stopping at the grocery store on their way home.

Not only does this mean women’s schedules are dictated by bus schedules and wait times around off-peak hours, but they are often accompanied by children for many of their trips as well.

These factors result in women facing unique accessibility issues and safety concerns when using public transit. For a transit service to be truly accessible and inclusive, it can implement the following gender-responsive transit infrastructure and services:

1. Increased service to non-office locations such as industrial parks, grocery stores, retail plazas, and other locations where riders may work or frequent.

2. Improved safety features such as increased lighting and cameras, and emergency buttons in and around transit hubs.

3. Safety-first services such as increased services on weekends and off-peak hours, and request-stop programs that allow riders to deboard at locations closer to their destination during early morning and late evening hours.

BFAST supports the City of Burlington’s commitment to exploring an on-demand transit model in its 2020-2024 Burlington Transit Business Plan, which will help provide service in underserved locations throughout the city and make transit safer and more accessible for everyone.

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