A 1998 survey of transit riders in Ann Arbor, Michigan found that police presence and increased lighting had the greatest influence on riders' perception of personal security; emergency phones and video surveillance systems had little influence.
Made Public Date


Ann Arbor
United States

Passenger Reactions to Transit Safety Measures

Summary Information

This report summarizes the results of a 1998 survey of transit riders in Ann Arbor, Michigan to assess the impact of several transit safety and security enhancements. The enhancements installed included on-board video surveillance, emergency phones, video cameras at transit centers, enhanced lighting at transfer centers, and increased police presence. Surveys were taken of riders on randomly selected routes at random times during weekday service.

It is important to note that the transit agency had made numerous previous improvements to enhance the safety of the system and that the system had an above average safety record. There were no reported violent crimes or property crimes during 1997 and only 3 arrests (2 for assault and 1 for fare evasion). Ratings provided by respondents were generally very high, indicating that the patrons felt safe on the system. Nevertheless, results of the survey indicate the ability of the various enhancements to improve transit riders perception of the safety and security of the system.

The camera systems were the safety enhancement most often noticed by respondents. The on-board cameras were noticed by 70 percent of the respondents and the transit center cameras by 63 percent. Additional police presence was noticed by 51 percent of respondents, while the increased lighting was noticed by 42 percent. Only 28 percent of those responding to the survey noticed the emergency phones installed at transfer centers.

When respondents rated the degree to which improvements increased their sense of security, police presence showed the greatest influence, followed closely by increased lighting. Emergency phones and video cameras had smaller impacts that were statistically indistinguishable from one another. The improvements were rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being "much more safe" and 1 being "much less safe." All improvements rated highly, with the lowest average rating a 4.18 for video cameras and highest 4.35 for additional police.

Riders were also asked to rate the increase in safety provided by the systems during different situations experienced while traveling by transit. The greatest increases in perceived safety due to the improvements were found under the situations that respondents indicated were least safe, such as waiting at a particular transfer center and riding the bus after dark. The on-board camera systems, while often noticed by passengers, only provided a significant feeling of additional security when respondents were riding the bus after dark. Demographic analysis indicated that women generally felt less safe on the transit system than men, but that they were also much more likely to notice the safety improvements, gaining a greater sense of security from them.
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