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Safety Equity Initiative

Project Introduction

All Muni users, SFMTA employees, San Franciscans and visitors to our world-class city deserve public transit that prioritizes safety and security. The SFMTA is committed to prioritizing safety in transit and mobility systems, particularly by combatting harassment and violence and empowering Muni customers and workers.

Project Timeline 
Phase 1: Listening, Research and Discovery
Phase 2: Outreach and Development
Phase 3: Implementation
Phase 4: Analysis and Evaluation
Current Phase or Stage
Phase 1: Listening, Research and Discovery
Project Status
Project Success
On schedule

Gender-based harassment is one of the most expansive and persistent forms of violence. It is especially pervasive on transit, most often impacting women, girls and gender-expansive people of all ages, abilities, races and ethnicities, cultural and language groups. Women often feel unsafe on transit, which impacts how often they ride, when they ride and if they ride at all. This is especially true for women and girls of color, and gender-based harassment disproportionately impacts community members who are Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

While incidents occur regularly in various forms on and around San Francisco’s transportation network, including when using Muni, they often go unreported. These incidents include inappropriate, unwanted contact, gestures or comments, staring, groping, indecent exposure, abuse and violence of a sexual or nonsexual nature. Some of these incidents may also be criminal acts. All are unacceptable, and we have a duty to work to end these behaviors.

Studies by LA Metro, New York University, San Jose State University and many others acknowledge that:

  • Transportation is the second most common place where sexual harassment occurs
  • Women have complex travel patterns and specific mobility needs
  • Reliable data is lacking making it difficult to respond to this persistent problem.

By prioritizing safety from a gender and racial equity lens, we aim to build diverse, intersectional community partnerships to better understand Muni riders’ experiences and develop solutions to address harassment when using Muni.

For ease of communication, we use “woman,” “girl,” and “gender-expansive people” interchangeably. These terms include trans women and girls, non-binary people, gender non-conforming people, genderqueer people, cis girls and cis women, and any individual identifying as a woman or girl.

In addition to engaging a broad range of women, girls and gender-expansive people to build specific safety campaigns and initiatives, this effort also aims to involve and educate men and boys to be allies and help prevent harassment and violence.

Program Goals

The aim of the Safety Equity Initiative is to create a safer environment for all Muni riders and SFMTA staff and support SFMTA’s mission of providing excellent transit and mobility service. We plan to accomplish this by:

  • Use ongoing research, studies, and data collection to understand existing and evolving needs
  • Work directly with SFMTA staff and members of the public to identify specific safety and security challenges and appropriate solutions
  • Provide inclusive, accessible, multilingual and culturally competent in-reach, community outreach and engagement
  • Educate and empower SFMTA staff and Muni riders

Program Outcomes

  • Improve mechanisms for reporting gender-based safety issues and security systems
  • Establish ongoing data gathering systems and processes and build capacity to monitor, evaluate and support ongoing safety interventions  
  • Identify factors that contribute to gender-based safety issues while using Muni
  • Use culturally affirming and socially responsive outreach, engagement communication and training to inform the development of SFMTA safety and violence prevention strategies.
  • Develop community-centered resources, campaigns and initiatives to build public awareness and support the prevention of gender-based safety issues
  • Develop policies, capital investment priorities, security deployment systems and gender violence prevention strategies
  • Use racial equity and data-driven strategies to eliminate gender violence by prioritizing gender safety throughout the San Francisco transportation system.

Commitment to the Community

The SFMTA acknowledges the historic lack of investment and systematic inequities in transit systems. We recognize the need to do better and seek to repair past harms by uplifting communities throughout the development, implementation and evolution of the Safety Equity Initiative and related efforts.

  • Respect: Value community members’ time and lived experiences that they choose to share with us, especially those not often heard in traditional decision-making venues
  • Transparency: Listen to the community, document and share what we learn and how this informs our decision-making
  • Accountability: Establish measures of success and tell the public how we’re doing
  • Build Trust: Deliver actions that reflect community priorities
Contact Information
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