Addressing Travel Needs of Women on Public Transportation

Since the 1970s research presented at domestic and international conferences has documented and addressed areas where the travel needs of women are distinct, such as: trip-making patterns and complexity (e.g., modes used, time of day, distance from home, trip chaining, and trip length); safety and security concerns; comfort and privacy issues; demographic factors (e.g., age, income, race, and pregnancy); fares and payment programs, (e.g., the absence of family fares); employment (e.g., location, time of day, and part-time jobs); and time poverty and household responsibilities (e.g., caring for and traveling with infants and toddlers, school-aged children, elderly family members, people with disabilities, and greater responsibility for household errands). An important conclusion from the research is that disparities and imbalances exist for women that impose burdens and limitations on mobility and access. To date, this awareness has not been widely translated into inclusive planning, policies, and practices to mitigate the burdens and limitations and to effectively address the travel needs of women. Recently some public transportation agencies, such as Los Angeles Metro, have initiated programs and a Gender Action Plan designed to: raise awareness of gender differences in travel, ensure diverse gender perspectives are considered in policies, programs, projects, and services, address gender gaps in policies, programs, projects, and services, improve quality and accessibility of public transportation services for women, and create measurable progress toward gender gap goals. Major barriers exist to effectively address the travel needs of women: (1) Lack of gender-specific data. Public transportation and planning agencies lack an understanding of how, when, and why women travel; how services, vehicles, and facilities should be designed; and how public transportation can be delivered in a way that works for women. (2) Incomplete planning methods and policies. Planners and policymakers need tools to mitigate the imbalances and disparities related to serving the travel needs of women to (1) conduct comprehensive assessments of transportation systems from a gender perspective; (2) identify gaps and challenges that affect women’s mobility and safety; (3) develop targeted policies and interventions to address these issues; and (4) monitor travel behavior patterns, so that policies, investments, and services can be adjusted to meet gender-based equity goals overtime. Research is needed to understand and address the travel needs and experiences of women. The objective of this research is to develop a practical resource for public transportation agencies, planning organizations, and their partnering organizations to (1) improve the travel experience of women and all travelers, (2) foster gender-inclusive decision-making, and (3) increase the use of fixed-route transit services, microtransit, on-demand services, and non-motorized travel connections. The resource should address more inclusive decision-making for all aspects of public transportation planning, operations, and capital investments.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $300000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project B-53

  • 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:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Start Date: 20230725
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01866941
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project B-53
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Dec 13 2022 9:10AM