Women and Transport: Guidance and Checklist
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This checklist and guidance has been developed as part of the Scottish Executive's widespread commitment to the promotion of social inclusion in Scotland and to ensuring that all groups in the community are able to fully participate in economic and social life. The basis of ensuring that this commitment is reflected in practice is the promotion of policies which meet the needs of all sections of the community.
In Scotland, 36% of households do not have access to a car. Car ownership is particularly low in deprived areas. As more people switch to the car, this can threaten the viability of public transport in certain areas, which in turn reduces the mobility of the least well off. The Executive is committed to the promotion of a fairer and more inclusive society. Promoting equality of opportunity for all, it will work to develop transport policies and services that consider gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture and religion.
In the past, however, policy makers and service providers have not always recognised the different effects of their provision on some groups (for example women, disabled people, ethnic minority groups) and the barriers they may impose on groups which do not fit the dominant pattern of need for which the provision has been developed.
This causes a range of problems in terms of excluding groups from full participation in economic and social life. It also points to the need for mainstreaming the promotion of equality through the development of policies and services which identify the potential impact of a policy or service upon women as a specific group. This awareness helps to ensure that issues affecting a group are acknowledged and addressed in the processes of policy making and provision.
Some of the ways in which women's travel patterns differ from those of men, and which consequently require different solutions in the promotion of transport policy, are:
- women tend to travel shorter distances than men;
- women have more limited access to cars than men;
- considerably fewer women than men have driving licences;
- women travel less in relation to their employment, and are more likely to work close to home and therefore to walk to work;
- although the differences between men and women in terms of journey patterns are closing, they are doing so only very slowly;
- women are more likely than men to travel by public transport, as car passengers and on foot;
- women's trips are more likely to relate to caring and family responsibilities, while men are more likely to travel for business and leisure;
- women make more trips to and from education (including escorting children) and more shopping trips than men;
- women make more journeys using public transport with children or otherwise "encumbered";
- women's journeys are more likely to involve a range of different forms of transport, whereas men's journeys often involve only cars;
- there are variations in travel patterns between different groups of women, for example: women with and without children, women with and without work and in different forms of employment, women of different ages, women in urban and rural locations, women from black and minority ethnic groups, and women with disabilities;
- women over 70 make fewer journeys than women aged 30-39, are less likely to have a driving licence, and are more likely to use public transport and travel on foot;
- women on lower incomes travel shorter distances and have less access to cars than other women;
- many disabled women are unable to use public transport in its current form; and
- women in rural areas have access to more limited public transport services and rely more heavily on car travel, and the impact of not having access to a car is greater in these areas.
All of these differences suggest that the ways in which public transport is provided has a differential impact on women, requiring consideration of the key issues affecting them - and their potential impact - in the policy-making process.
The key issues which emerge from relevant research are summarised in the supplementary notes. The approach which has been described represents a wholly evidence-based approach to policy making. This evidence has been gathered through a major research study of the transport issues affecting women in Scotland.
More detailed information can be obtained in the research report, "Women and Transport: Moving Forward", which should also be read by those involved in the auditing process. The report can be found at www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/resfinds under "transport".
It should also be stressed here that the introduction of mainstreaming equalities work and the development of widespread gender auditing will require the provision of longer-term training and advice. This guidance and checklist provide a starting point for the development of such work in relation to transport policy. Detailed advice, where required, can be sought from the Equality Unit of the Scottish Executive, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ, which will be able to provide further guidance in the development of a mainstreaming approach.
This guidance is for use with the checklist provided to ensure that transport provision is relevant to women and can be used by them. The notes are designed to provide additional details regarding the reasons for considering each of the issues, and to identify the main factors which need to be taken into account. Many of the actions suggested will also deliver benefits to other groups, such as disabled people and the elderly (both men and women).
Section 1: The Policy Process
The first stage involves the examination of the policy process in order to ensure that a number of basic requirements are built into the formulation and development of policy, ensuring that consideration of issues affecting women form part of mainstream considerations. The following areas should be addressed:
- Has clear direction been given to those involved in the development of the policy regarding the need to consider the impact on women from the outset? (Note 1)
- In developing the policy, has information on issues relating to women or specific groups (e.g. disabled women, women from ethnic minorities, women in rural areas, lone parents and women travelling with children) been examined? (Note 2)
- Do all of those involved in policy making recognise the organisation's commitment to mainstreaming and understand the constraints relating to women and transport? (Note 1)
- Have women been involved in the decision-making process relating to the development and implementation of this policy? (Note 3)
- Have women's views been actively sought in relation to the development of this policy, using an accessible consultation process and a range of means? (Note 4)
- Will the policy proposals be examined in terms of the checklist contained within this document, to highlight any issues which have not been identified previously? (Note 1)
- Will action be taken to address any problems, identified through the checklist, to address barriers, and will the process be used to improve women's access to transport where possible? (Note 5)
- Will promotion of the policy ensure that women are aware of the proposals and the ways in which they will be affected by them? (Note 4)
- Is there an agreed process for monitoring the implementation of the policy which allows the impact upon women to be identified and addressed? (Note 6)
The Policy Implications
Once an appropriate policy process has been established, a number of considerations should be taken into account as the policy develops, and the proposed content should be examined in terms of a number of key issues. Where a proposal is likely to affect any of these aspects of provision, it is important to identify the potential effects in detail, and to re-consider any areas in which barriers to women's travel may be created.
Section 2: Security/Comfort
Consideration should be given to whether any aspect of the policy/proposal is likely to affect the design, layout or other aspects of the physical environment, vehicles used by travellers, the level of transport staffing or surveillance of areas in which women travel. For example, does the policy/proposal have a positive impact on:
- the provision and use of a well-lit, open, visible, clean and well-maintained built environment, vehicles and facilities? (Note 7)
- the provision of staff, or means of surveillance, to oversee areas and vehicles used by women when travelling? (Note 8)
- the provision of access to support and assistance for women travellers, as required? (Note 9)
- the enforcement of measures by providers against perpetrators of violence against women? (Note 10)
- the development of further improvements to women's security through the consideration of new means/forms of provision? (Note 11)
Section 3: Accessibility
Is any aspect of the policy/proposal likely to affect physical access to facilities and the transport infrastructure, or the design of vehicles? For example, does the policy/ proposal have a positive impact on:
- the provision of physical access for all groups to vehicles, facilities and the built environment? (Note 12)
- the development and provision of facilities for children, to meet the needs of women travelling with children? (Note 13)
- the development of adequate space on vehicles and within facilities to allow the storage of buggies, bags and other items? (Note 14)
- the development of further accessibility through consideration of new means/forms of provision? (Note 15)
Section 4: Routes/Services Provided
Is any aspect of the policy/proposal likely to affect the provision of routes and services, types of transport available, or provision to rural areas or peripheral estates? For example, does the policy/proposal have a positive impact on:
- the provision of integrated transport, without identifiable gaps in services? (Note 16)
- the use and availability of transport in less accessible areas, including rural areas, peripheral estates and suburbs? (Note 17)
- the distances transport users have to travel, for example on foot, to access services? (Note 17)
- the provision of transport at times which meet both the needs of both full- and part-time workers? (Note 18)
- the provision and use of transport serving the locations of major employers? (Note 19)
- the development of improvements in less accessible areas through consideration of new means/forms of provision? (Note 20)
Section 5: Costs
Is any aspect of the policy/proposal likely to affect the cost of any form of travel, including the imposition of new charges for any aspect of transport use, or an increase in existing charges? For example, will the policy/proposal have a positive impact on:
- the provision of low-cost transport and facilities to allow use of all forms of transport by all income levels? (Note 21)
- the provision of measures to offset increased charges which potentially exclude some users from some forms of transport? (Note 22)
- the development and provision of flexible options to reduce the costs of travel by all forms of transport? (Note 22)
- the development of reductions in the cost of new transport use through consideration of new means/forms of provision? (Note 23)
Section 6: Information Provided
Is any aspect of the policy/proposal likely to affect the nature, content or availability of information, or the ways in which information is provided? For example, does the policy/ proposal have a positive impact on:
- the provision of clear and accessible timetables and other travel information? (Note 24)
- the development and provision of integrated systems of multi-modal information? (Note 25)
- the provision of information in a range of formats/languages to inform a range of transport users? (Note 26)
- the development of further improvements to information through the consideration of new means/forms of provision? (Note 27)
Section 7: Planning, Provision and Consultation
Is any aspect of the policy/proposal likely to affect the ways in which transport policy or services are planned at a national or local level, the provision of staff training, or the process of consultation with groups in the community? For example, does the policy/proposal have a positive effect on:
- the integration of transport policy and planning with the views of women in local areas? (Note 28)
- the development and provision of opportunities for women to participate in consultation? (Note 28)
- the understanding of social inclusion issues relating to women by policy makers and service providers? (Note 29)
- the development of further improvements in staff training and consultation to increase understanding through new initiatives? (Note 29)
The first stage in ensuring that policy is developed in an appropriate way is to ensure the provision of clear direction and commitment at the highest level within the policy-making organisation. All those involved in the development or consideration of policy must be required to actively examine, at each stage, the implications of their proposed developments for all groups, including women. This will involve ensuring a clear understanding of the general principles of equalities work, the barriers which currently exist and the ways in which these can be overcome.
Policy makers must ensure that they collect and examine relevant information in relation to the policy they are developing. With regards to women and transport, for example, the research report "Women and Transport: Moving Forward", prepared in conjunction with this checklist, provides a useful overview of some of the relevant literature. In addition, the research identifies a range of specific issues affecting women using transport which have key implications for policy.
In terms of the decision-making process, it is important to ensure that there is a broad spectrum of participants, representing a range of groups. In an area such as transport, which has traditionally been male-dominated, it is important that the views of women as policy shapers are included, as this can ensure there is an appropriate focus on the key issues and a balanced input of views.
It is also vital that the views of women in the community are specifically sought, through a widespread consultation process, regarding the ways in which policy proposals might affect them. This process should involve any relevant national groups as well as a range of local women's groups. Many local authorities maintain lists of women's groups from which relevant organisations can be identified. Where consultation does take place, consideration should be given to using a range of methods (e.g. discussions, short questionnaires and public meetings, as well as more traditional means such as the circulation of consultative papers).
Where women's comments are sought using a consultative process, a realistic timescale should be established to allow groups to meet and consider their response. Where meetings are held, the venue should be accessible to disabled women, including wheelchair users, and the provision of childcare should be considered. Publicity for a consultative process should be wide and directed to relevant venues where it is likely to be seen by women. Material provided should, if possible, be available in a range of formats, including disk, tape and Braille, as well as in community languages.
Consideration should be given to providing transport to any meetings which are held. Where necessary, meetings should also be held in rural areas, and specific means of identifying the views of rural women should be sought. The timing of meetings should also be considered, as many women will be unable to attend at times which coincide with the collection of children from school.
All of these mechanisms are likely to highlight a range of issues which need to be taken into account in the development of policy. The use of the checklist should also allow the identification of any aspects of policy which have implications for women, whether these are positive or negative. Where any negative effect is identified, the policy should be reconsidered, the aim being to ensure that it is addressed and that its impact is at least neutral. Wherever possible, however, consideration should be given to whether a policy can be used to make transport more accessible to women, to address existing difficulties which have been identified, and to identify any aspects of women's experiences which could be enhanced.
In order to ensure that policies respond to changing circumstances, and to measure the impact of policies in practice, there is a need to establish a continuing dialogue between transport policy makers, providers and users. There is a need both to monitor changes to patterns of service use in terms of gender and other factors, and a need to identify regular means of receiving feedback from women's groups and women in the community. This should include consideration of the specific impact of a policy on groups such as disabled women, women from ethnic minorities, women in rural areas, lone parents, older women and a range of other groups who may be affected in particular ways.
This should be separate from, but in addition to, individual providers' complaints procedures.
A range of issues relating to personal security and comfort affect women while they are travelling, and there can be significant constraints on women's travel as a result of such issues. Women have higher levels of restriction on their travel due to these issues, particularly after dark.
Research has shown that many modes of transport are considered problematic for women after dark (including buses, trains and walking) and many interchanges (bus/railway stations, bus stops and car parks) are considered unsafe. Aspects such as poor lighting, lack of visibility, lack of cleanliness, vandalism and poor maintenance can all have an impact on women's perceptions of safety. Therefore it is essential to identify whether a policy development can affect improvements in these areas.
The most visible security measure in recent years has been the introduction of CCTV as a means of surveillance, but it is important that where this is provided it is supported by appropriate staffing and is not seen as a solution in itself.
Any ways in which a policy can enable the introduction of measures to reduce isolation should be considered, particularly the development of secure routes, whereby services, interchanges and town centres can be linked.
It is also suggested that surveillance by staff and the provision of staffing both on vehicles and during walking and waiting times can be helpful, with the provision of staffed facilities and vehicles after dark, as well as regular patrols of areas and services, being important. These staff can help to respond to any problems which arise.
As stated in note 8, it is not sufficient for surveillance measures alone to address women's safety issues. There is a need for the provision of appropriate responses to issues which arise. This suggests the need for the provision of staffing on vehicles and at facilities wherever possible, including car parks. It also indicates the need for monitoring of CCTV in order to identify and possibly prevent incidents.
The provision on vehicles and at facilities of a means of attracting staff assistance should be encouraged, as should the provision of help for drivers on isolated roads (such as telephones or other assistance).
There are a number of other ways in which personal security can be enhanced, such as the introduction of no alcohol policies on vehicles and the streets, and the enforcement of these policies. Other measures can include encouraging operators to challenge and report perpetrators of violence against women, as well as the promotion of initiatives to encourage such reporting.
There is, however, a broader issue relating to violence against women which has implications beyond transport policy. There are a number of initiatives within the Executive focusing on this issue, and there is a need for the developments in women's security which focus on transport legislation to link to the overall action plan to tackle violence against women more generally. This will involve a clear process of identifying appropriate policy contacts and sharing information as work develops.
As well as measures relating to personal security, women have identified the role of policy in the encouragement of other initiatives to address aspects of security. Policy developments can help to encourage the use of walking and cycling, and ensure that they can be undertaken safely. Initiatives like taxi-sharing can be promoted, and issues such as the regulation of taxi providers encouraged.
Policies, where possible, should encourage providers and operators to identify and promote new work in this area, as well as monitor the effects of provision which has been made.
The need for services to be physically accessible is important in order to address the needs of disabled people (including women) as well as being beneficial to women who are "encumbered" in other ways (e.g. with buggies/children). Wherever possible, all aspects of transport policy should promote the development of accessible transport in Scotland, and should address issues which relate to vehicles themselves, infrastructure provision and the pedestrian environment.
There are also issues for disabled people driving, with a need to promote the availability of appropriate parking and to use policy and legislation to address inappropriate parking and the abuse of designated parking spaces. Abuse of parking spaces designated as parent/child parking should also be addressed.
Many women with children rely on the use of public transport - lone parents, for instance, are amongst those least likely to have access to a car - and the lack of physical access can be a significant barrier to their use of it.
In order to promote improvements through policy development, a focus on the promotion of physically accessible services is required (e.g. the development of low floor buses, increases to low floor services, the consistent provision of ramps and lifts and the use of ramps on trains) which can accommodate not only wheelchairs, but also pushchairs/buggies.
The availability of assistance for women at transport facilities and on board vehicles, by staff who have an awareness of the issues facing women with children, can also have a positive impact and should be encouraged.
Policy developers should encourage the use or design of transport vehicles by providers and operators which have adequate space for the storage of bags, buggies and other items.
There have been a number of improvements to the availability of vehicles and other mechanisms to increase the accessibility of transport. It is likely that technology will continue to develop and new access improvements become possible. It is important to ensure that transport providers are encouraged to be aware of such improvements, and that the use of these can be encouraged through the development of transport policy as they become available.
Previous research has demonstrated that women's travel patterns are more complex than those of men, with a greater overall reliance on public transport and a range of different purposes for journeys, often requiring the use of different forms of transport in combination.
Women's employment patterns (more likely to work part time, often in more than one job) and childcare responsibilities, as well as other responsibilities such as caring for relatives or taking family members to attend appointments, all affect the ways in which they use transport.
Any policy measures which facilitate the provision of integrated transport can tackle some of the barriers which women face. This can be addressed, for example, through the provision of linking between different forms of service (bus and train, services by different operators, the location of facilities, and location of services relative to each other). In addition, the development of initiatives such as "through ticketing" can facilitate the use of different forms of transport to meet women's needs.
The low frequency and overall lack of provision of public transport services to rural areas has been highlighted as problematic, as has the provision of services at times allowing women from these areas to work in main towns and to gain access to other services and facilities.
Women living on peripheral estates and in some suburbs have also experienced problems, for example, in terms of the frequency of services and routes that are served. The current "hub and spoke" system of provision can make travel between villages and between suburbs difficult.
There is a need to encourage the improvement of provision to rural areas, and to develop services which meet the needs of women in other areas currently isolated in terms of their access to transport services.
It is also essential to consider issues for each type of area separately (i.e. the impact upon women in peripheral estates/rural areas), as developments could potentially have a positive impact on one and a negative impact on the other.
Women are more likely to rely on public transport in order to reach their workplace, and women have reported problems in the timetabling of services to allow them to get to work on time. Women are also more likely to work part time than men and to have two or more jobs. They may face a very limited service during off-peak hours. Women working shifts and those working in the evenings have particular difficulties (with overlaps with issues relating to their personal safety).
As well as a need to increase services to specific areas, there is a need to promote an increase in services generally, and to focus on off-peak hours, including evenings and weekends. The services most women require may not always accord with the most profitable provision of services, and the use of policy to ensure consideration is given to promoting such services is a key part of addressing this aspect of social exclusion.
The nature of employment in Scotland has changed in recent years. There is a need for a flexible workforce, often working irregular hours and having periods of full- and part-time employment. The largest part of the flexible workforce is provided by women.
The location of new areas of employment in Scotland tends to be newer green field sites rather than urban locations. In planning these developments, there have not always been corresponding improvements in the provision of public transport, thus restricting the opportunities available to women. There is a need for policy development to encourage the provision of services to these areas in order to meet the needs of both major employers and the workforce. This includes the provision of additional services and consideration of the appropriate timing and frequency of the services. There is also a role for employers, who should consider the benefits the development of Travel Plans can bring to their workforce.
All of the issues relating to the availability of public transport services clearly have a different impact on women, as more frequent users of public transport, and on some groups of women to a greater extent than others.
Transport policy should continue to focus on encouraging the provision of services based on the travel patterns women demonstrate. This should include the need to gain access to local employment, to be able to travel to appointments, to develop routes consistent with schooling and to link these routes to shopping areas. It should also include the need to promote the provision of services to and from peripheral and rural areas which are currently less well served.
Research continues to demonstrate that women, on the whole, have income levels lower than those of men, and some groups of women (such as lone parents and older women) are likely to be disproportionately represented amongst those on lower incomes. Women also have less access to private transport. Research has shown that the cost of travel can be a specific barrier to access to transport services for many women, and this includes women who have private transport.
In terms of public transport, rising fares can reduce its availability to women. Journeys from areas requiring the use of different forms of transport, or different services, also increase costs and may have an impact on women travelling. There are, again, likely to be higher costs for women in rural areas and women who need to travel with a companion.
It is essential that the potential impact of a policy on the cost of transport to the user is explored.
There is a need to encourage the general provision of transport at a reasonable cost. Where policy developments have an impact on reducing the cost of fares generally, this should be clearly pursued.
There may be scope for the provision of flexible options which can reduce the costs of transport (such as multi-journey and through ticketing). Again, policy should be developed to encourage the promotion of these initiatives wherever possible.
The continuing considerations of promoting policy change and development which affect a reduction in the cost of transport use remain a key aspect of meeting the transport needs of women, as well as improving access to transport for all users.
The ways in which transport information is provided can have an impact both on access to services and on safety. Women have identified a range of issues and indicated that, along with routes, services and safety are among the key issues constraining their travel.
A number of issues have been identified relating to information. Without appropriate information, women will not be able to use public transport to meet their needs. Women are often unaware of where and how to identify information, and point to a lack of clarity in the information which is provided. Timetables have often been highlighted as problematic in terms of their complexity and level of reliability, as well as accessibility of information. The uncertainty of not knowing when the next service will come along is also one of the main transport-related causes of fear of crime.
There are many ways in which information provided can be improved, and policies should be used, where possible, to encourage the provision of comprehensive, reliable and accessible information. This should be made available at a range of locations, should be well publicised and should include encouragement towards the provision of information at facilities, stops and on board vehicles, including "real time" information displaying the waiting time to the next service. Transport operators should be encouraged to ensure staff are able to provide accurate information to passengers.
Given the complexity of some of the journeys which women undertake, there is often a need to use a number of different services, or to use different modes of transport in combination. This can lead to additional difficulties in gaining access to information from different service providers and obtaining information on connecting services (again, a crucial aspect of women's safety).
The difficulties women face in planning journeys can be addressed by reliable provision allowing proper planning of journeys, even where these involve more than one operator or type of connecting service. Policies should be examined for potential impact on the provision of information relating to complex and multi-modal journeys. The development of integrated information, along with integrated services, should be encouraged through policy developments. National timetable information is now available through Traveline on 0870 608 2 608.
Research has demonstrated that some women require the provision of information in a non-standard format. This is particularly important for disabled women and women from ethnic minorities.
People with hearing impairments face specific barriers in the use of audible information, people with visual impairments require provision in formats other than written text, people from ethnic minorities may require provision in languages other than English and people with learning disabilities (along with many others) face barriers in relation to the complexity and format of provision.
There is a need to promote the provision of written and audible information in a range of formats, and to encourage the provision of translated information. This overlaps with other aspects of provision, such as the development of community interpreting and translation services.
The types of information required should be considered in consultation with the specific groups likely to use it. This will require direct consultation to ensure the proposed developments are appropriate. Where the policy is likely to have an impact on the provision of information, there is a need to ensure this will accord with the demands of the Disability Discrimination Act, and reflect good practice.
As with all the other areas covered in the consideration of issues affecting women, continuing improvements to technology can assist in the development of new forms of information provision. In addition, there are currently initiatives being undertaken to promote the development of multi-modal information, and it is essential that the results of any evaluation of such new initiatives (along with feedback) are included in the consideration of policy developments.
There is a need to continue promoting improvements to information, to accord with the needs described above. Policies should, where possible, identify mechanisms to encourage new initiatives in relation to the type of information provision and the dissemination of such material.
There is a need to identify issues affecting women as a group, and to identify issues affecting specific groups of women in transport policy and planning at a national and local level.
Women have highlighted the difference between transport as it is provided, and transport which would address their travel patterns and requirements, and have indicated there has been a lack of understanding or acknowledgement of these issues in the past. Developments should encourage the incorporation of women's views, including the involvement of women in the transport planning and decision-making processes at a local level.
Policies should also promote the provision of local opportunities for consultation. This should include involvement of women in a range of circumstances and means of consultation, as well as the identification of means which are appropriate for participation by women.
Policies should promote the need for provision of regular feedback from women using services, following the implementation of changes. This should include the development of complaints procedures, as well as seeking the views and experiences of women users through additional consultative mechanisms.
Any potential impact of a policy in terms of service planning mechanisms must consider increasing the representation of women's views in the process.
A number of issues relating to women's circumstances and the impact these have on patterns and experiences of travel have been highlighted throughout the guidance notes. Issues such as work patterns, safety issues, domestic responsibilities and income levels have an impact on the ability of transport provision to be fully inclusive and to reflect the requirements of women.
When these issues - and the concept of social inclusion - are understood clearly by policy makers and service providers, it becomes more likely that issues affecting women will be considered as an integral part of the process.
Although the use of the checklist will assist in framing policy to address barriers to access which affect women, the process will be enhanced by the provision of training for both policy makers and staff.