9 December 2021

In a year where personal security has been at the forefront of minds, it would seem counter-intuitive to do anything that could make public transport less safe.

However the consequence of significant cuts to service levels and staffing levels that TfL may have to make could have significant impacts on the safety of people travelling in London.

Whether it was worries about waiting a long time for a bus, or feeling unsafe on empty platforms late at night, many issues came up when we spoke to transport users about their personal security concerns while travelling in London. For women and girls, older and disabled people and people of colour, this concern was higher and often connected to feeling more vulnerable to things like sexual harassment, hate crime or verbal abuse.

It was clear from our research that the overall efficiency and reliability of the network has a significant impact on how safe passengers feel, because:

  • More frequent services reduce the risk of passengers being left stranded or waiting for a long time in dark, unfamiliar or unsafe stations.
  • Whether it was waiting for the bus, tube, train or other transport modes, passengers simply do not want to be on their own for an extended period of time, as for many it feels as if this invites opportunities for people to take advantage when no one else is around and there are no bystanders or witnesses.

The announcement about the potential cut to staffing levels on the Tube also raises concerns. When we spoke to young women in particular, not only did they want staff to be present, they wanted staff levels to increase. One young woman observed ‘I feel like there are less transport staff available so sometimes worry that if you needed intervention from a transport worker they aren’t around.’

Similarly, another mentioned the strong connection with feeling safer when a member of staff was present: ‘I prefer it when there is a member on staff on platform I feel more safe. especially if I experience someone between stations in the Tube then I have someone to go to.’

Transport users we spoke to already feel that the network is not sufficiently staffed: ‘TfL workers don’t tend to be at my local stop off peak / night time, typically when they’re needed the most.’ Demonstrating the impact this could have on safety.

What can we do?

The risk to personal security is just another consequence of TfL not getting the funding needed to plan properly long-term. Please sign, send and share our letter template that can be used to ask your councillors, Assembly Members and London MPs to call on the government to protect London’s long-term future: http://takeaction.londontravelwatch.org.uk/protect-londons-public-transport

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