Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices. Topic SB-39. Improving Transit Customer Perception of Personal Security

In August 2022, Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) released the findings from a global study, Changing Patterns of Violence Pose New Challenges for Public Transport, that found growing violence against passengers and staff on passenger trains, at train stations, a on buses, and at bus stations. Brian Michael Jenkins writes: “The behavior is contributing to a sense of insecurity. A public fearful of traveling adds to economic difficulties for transportation operators and reduced resources for facilities improvements, service, and security. The fact there are fewer riders may contribute even further to a sense of insecurity…” Passengers may feel exacerbated by the increased number of homeless people using transit. People who are homeless often use public transit vehicles or facilities as shelters to stay out of the weather and to be safe. For various reasons, many transit passengers do not feel comfortable around people who are homeless, especially if these people have mental health or substance abuse issues (TCRP Synthesis 121). Los Angeles Metro (“Metro”) reports that in their customer survey, rail riders list homelessness as one of the top issues they want the agency to address. (See Metro’s blog. The Source). Metro has been working to solve the homelessness issue since 2017 when its Board of Directors approved Metro’s first Homeless Outreach Plan. However, since the problem is so complex, there is a public perception that Metro is not doing enough. New York’s MTA Subway Safety Plan (2022) recognizes that crime and homelessness are major issues for the subway system in New York and outlines a three-part plan that will transition people living in subway stations into permanent housing. This plan, also dubbed “Cops, Camera and Care,” will add NYPD and MTA officers, the installation of additional security cameras and intervention teams that help the homeless and mentally ill in the stations while protecting the transit customers. The MTA believes this plan will reduce all types of crime, will make the system safer, and attract more riders. Other agencies are also struggling with the perception of customers about how they handle issues of crime and homelessness, among others. Some try to improve their customer’s perception by creating customer experience programs that endeavor to improve customer satisfaction, attract ridership, and improve morale. Since safety is a significant concern of riders, the customer experience includes outreach to the homeless population. This Synthesis will document the current practices transit systems use to improve customer perception of personal security. The report will highlight the following: the strategies that are being used to increase customer perception of security on transit; whether the strategies are successful; how these strategies are communicated to the public; and the associated change in customers’ perceptions.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $55000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SB-39

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    ,   Germany 

    Texas A&M Transportation Institute

    Texas A&M University System
    3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135
  • Principal Investigators:

    Hudson, Joan

  • Start Date: 20231114
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01879058
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SB-39
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Apr 10 2023 5:18PM