Maryland Department of Transportation Launches Campaign to Address Sexual Harassment on Transit

by Patrick Herron

Per MDOT MTA:
BALTIMORE, MD (September 29, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) today announced the launch of a new public service campaign to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment on transit. The agency is addressing the issue as part of its efforts to follow through on safety and security commitments adopted in the MDOT MTA Rebuilding Better strategic plan, released in September 2021.

“There is no place for sexual harassment on transit or anywhere else,” said MDOT MTA Administrator Holly Arnold. “We want everyone to know we take incidents of harassment seriously and are launching this campaign so that we can improve the overall experience for all who take transit.”

The campaign is focused on educating the public on what constitutes sexual harassment and how it can be stopped. Ads that aim to shift the culture in that direction are being deployed on buses and rail vehicles in addition to social media. In conjunction with the ad campaign, MDOT MTA is launching a safety and security webpage at mta.maryland.gov/safety. The webpage highlights resources and a reporting form for individuals experiencing harassment on an MDOT MTA transit vehicle or at an MDOT MTA stop or station. The webpage also identifies the “3Ds” (Distract, Delegate and Direct) – strategies that bystanders witnessing harassment can use to help the victim.

Industry-wide evidence suggests sexual harassment is a personal security issue transit agencies must confront to ensure transit systems are safe for everyone who wants to use them. Several transit agencies in cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago have launched similar anti-harassment programs in recent years.

An integral component of the MDOT MTA campaign focuses on data collection to better assess the extent riders in the Baltimore region are experiencing sexual harassment, as well as to inform future decision making on outreach, campaign messaging, expectations for rider conduct and resource deployment. Rider outreach tactics include annual rider surveys, management and operator training, outreach events at frequently used transit stops and on-line reporting tools.

The MDOT MTA anti-sexual harassment campaign is the beginning of a long-term investment in shifting the culture on the transit system in a way that improves the transit experience for all riders. Based on data and feedback collected from riders, the agency plans to refine and expand the campaign annually, as well as partner with local community-based organizations to share ideas and input.

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