Triggers for feelings of insecurity and perceptions of safety in relation to public transport; the experiences of young and active travellers

Vanessa Stjernborg, Applied Mobilities, February 2024

A key aspect of an attractive and accessible public transport system is that passengers feel safe and secure, not least from a travel chain perspective. The aim of this paper is to provide an increased understanding of triggers for feelings of insecurity and perceptions of safety in relation to public transport, with a special focus on larger public transport nodes in the city of Malmö, Sweden. The study draws on a map-based online survey (public participatory GIS) which was designed to allow people to contribute their experiences and reflections. An online survey was distributed through social media, and the collected data is of both a quantitative and a qualitative nature. The sample consists of 290 students and workers between the ages of 21–35 who frequently use public transport. The findings show that one in ten respondents have often to very often avoided public transport because of feelings of insecurity. Thematic analysis revealed a variety of triggers, covering aspects from the physical dimension to the social dimension. Some examples include the design of bus stops, the surrounding traffic environment, and other people. The presence of guards and the police force seems to increase the feelings of insecurity for some, while the opposite was true for other respondents. The findings emphasize the importance of further research to illuminate different parts of a journey at a micro level, i.e. from the person-environment relationship, as well as to further highlight the issue of who transit environments are planned and designed for.

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