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Is the inclusion of gender and racial equity in transit planning appropriate?


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Coruscanti Cognoscente

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I think this article from the National Post is worth discussing.

Mods, feel free to change the thread title or merge this thread with a preexisting one if you please. Though I think this whole issue deserves a thread of its own.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/03/01/kristyn-wong-tam-transit-equity-is-about-customer-service/

Kristyn Wong-Tam: Transit equity is about customer service

Special to National Post Mar 1, 2012 – 12:10 AM ET
Urban Scrawl

Imagine my surprise when I was named in the National Post by Terence Corcoran in his Feb. 23 column for “driving policy-making further off the rails†as it pertains to Toronto’s turbulent stop-and-go transit history.

It appears my amendment to incorporate “a gender and racial equity lens†to Councillor Karen Stintz’s motion on Feb. 8 to enhance the policy-making of the special advisory panel for Sheppard Avenue is causing Mr. Corcoran some discomfort.

He claims that my advocacy for the inclusion of gender and racial equity in transit planning is somehow misplaced or misguided. The participation of urban and social planning professionals from the Toronto Women’s City Alliance and Social Planning Toronto will enhance the transit discourse; without them, the intelligence gathering and sharing of this expert advisory panel may be incomplete.

I do wish to thank Mr. Corcoran and the National Post for this opportunity to explain how gender and racial equity principles should be interwoven into Toronto’s transit planning.

Gender awareness has already been incorporated in service enhancements at the TTC, namely with the implementation of designated waiting areas, which improve safety on the subway platforms, as well as the request-stop programs that historically allowed women and girls to request bus drivers stop between designated stops after dark. These services have evolved, and are now available to benefit all riders.

New South Wales in Australia purposefully “design out†opportunities for sexual assault by constructing bright lights, walking paths along major routes and monitored security in its transit infrastructure.

Mexico City also adopted a gender lens in its public transit planning by creating the program “Women Traveling Safely on the City’s Public Transit.â€

The United Nations and the World Bank have produced separate policy papers calling for gender awareness in public transit policy for urban and rural populations. The TTC can continue its good work by ensuring the incorporation of a gender and racial equity lens in future transit plans and by observing other cities.

Stanford University employs gender analysis using disaggregated data in its research. This led to the creation of the “mobility of care†concept that studies travel patterns for women doing the bulk of the “care work†for their families. Care work includes transporting a child to schools or extracurricular activities, visiting an elderly parent, shopping and other related functions. In most families, women perform the majority of care work, thus resulting in women having different transit needs.

UK’s London Underground has adopted a “Gender Equality Scheme†that created 47 step-free stations that effectively removed steps from streets to platforms to accommodate strollers, shopping carts, wheelchairs and other devices. By 2013, the Underground is committed to converting, in total, 92 stations, or at least one-third of all stations, into step-free access. Furthermore, London Underground engineers have widened aisle gate access to some of their premier stations, such as Canary Wharf.

The Harmonized European Time Survey analyzed gender-disaggregated data in transportation usage for 15 countries and found that “trip-chaining†or multi-purpose trips is a more common travel pattern for women than it is for men who generally travel from home to work without the frequent stops required for care work. Sweden improved its subway lines and light-rail infrastructure to accommodate multi-destination trips with the objective to create a “gender-equal†transit system.

Data disaggregation by gender alone produces incomplete transit policies. Variables such as race, class, age, family status and how it all intersects with gender should automatically be enshrined in our city’s public transit plans. Unfortunately, it is not and that is why my motion is still necessary.

An advisory panel comprised of policy experts should be qualified and ready to speak to transit planning from the widest range of perspectives, not just from conventional engineering lexicon. My opinion is that more perspectives are needed for good policy creation, not less.

By advocating the principles of social inclusion in mass transit planning, I am merely a proponent of greater customer service and an improved business model. Standing on any crowded TTC bus or packed subway platform, one can easily take note that the majority of transit dependents are women and residents from racialized groups.

If a service provider — and in this case, the TTC — does not properly assess its customers’ needs, then how can they adequately match service enhancements to identified ridership requirements? The costs to redesign the infrastructure after it has been built and installed will be substantially higher than during the planning stage. Equity makes for a solid business case.

Mainstreaming gender and racial equity into our transit strategy is neither misplaced nor misguided. Belittling efforts to ensure social inclusion and rider equity could derail not just the dreams for a Sheppard transit plan, but also an inclusive 21st century modern Toronto.
 

EnviroTO

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The diverse population that transit serves should be considered when designing transit, but the design enhancements are ones we could all benefit from but they may simply hold greater importance for certain populations. For example, elevators in stations... is it really a station enhancement for people in wheelchairs or is it a benefit to everyone? You can see elderly people, people with strollers, and lazy people using them. The improvement may be the highest priority for a particular group but it benefits the general public. Feeling safe in stations... is it really a station enhancement for women or is it a station enhancement for everyone? It may be a higher priority in certain demographics but everyone benefits from an absence of dark spaces and poor visibility. I see the value in considering diversity when designing stations and vehicles.

However, I see no value in it from a "where transit should go" perspective. Where transit should go should look at existing travel patterns, expected growth, and the availability of alternatives (car ownership rates, walking distance trips, etc). Buried in the numbers there may be some demographic correlations but the data doesn't need to be analyzed at that level and it adds no benefit to do so. If there is low car ownership in a neighbourhood, and high transit use... who cares what the income level and ethnicity is?
 

RedRocket191

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I feel the need to self identify as a black male, aged 27, though I have no clue if that has any bearing on my opinion.

As EnviroTO says, there may be a correlation between the kinds of people who could benefit most from transit expansion and what those people look like, but their race, ethnicity and gender is secondary to the fact that they could benefit from transit expansion. One should not run a bus line into a ____ neighbourhood because it's a ___ neighbourhood - do it because there are people there who tend to benefit more from transit than other areas - whatever they look like or whatever organs they have.

That said, we must also consider the effects of gentrification when we plan and try to maintain affordability when a transit project makes a neighbourhood more attractive. Cincinnati is one example of a city that is paralyzed by the fear of gentrification, while planners in Washington DC deny that gentrification is even real. Our concern for gentrification should be somewhere between those two extremes.
 

Palma

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I thought gentrification was good. I realize that these neighbourhoods eventually become more expensive but that takes place over a period of time. it does not happen from start to finish within even 5 years I think
 

DSC

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Surely transit planning should be done to ensure that transit is as convenient as possible for all potential riders and transit priorities should surely be based on anticipated demand? This may mean that there should be more transit in areas with lower median income as one can probably assume that fewer people have cars (and thus need more transit) and ought to mean (Mayors Fords are you listening?) that the mode of transit needs to reflect anticipated demand (and the $$ available). I am not sure that the needs of female passengers differ from those of male ones - we all surely want frequent (or at least predictable) service, cleanliness and safety. I also see no reason why white passengers might not have much the same needs and expectations as black or Asian ones. There may well be different needs for different age groups, older folk and people with young children need elevators and escalators more than others.
 

W. K. Lis

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Maybe we should have planning based on left-hand and right-hand equity? Would that be sinister if we did?
 

prosperegal

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Does ethnicity really have that much effect on transit? What's the difference between me, a city dwelling, 30-something, married, child-free Chinese woman with a suburban upbringing and handbag addiction and a say, Indian or Italian or Jewish woman with a said upbringing?
 

kkgg7

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it is stupid to think race has anything to do with transit planning. I don't see how it is even related.

Racial equality simply means don't deny anyone his right solely on his racial background. It shouldn't mean give certain racial groups certain privileges just because they are not of the majority race.

Many developed countries are overdoing it and by emphasizing the interest of a race the policy actually hurt the interest of another, and that's just wrong.

One case in point, Asian students need to score 450 points higher on the SAT on average to be admitted into public universities such as UCLA in California than black and Hispanic kids. Basically Asian students are punished for collectively work harder than black and Hispanic students. They probably should party more and study less so that the "bar on Asians" won't be erected?

Another example is many companies and public services, in predeterminer a minimum percentage of non-white workforce ratio, ends up hiring more non-white employees and fewer qualified whites solely on the basis of their ethnicity. I think it is wrong.

Race, unlike having only one leg, is not a handicap. You should not NOT hire someone because he is not white, nor should you hire someone because he is not white.
 

RedRocket191

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it is stupid to think race has anything to do with transit planning. I don't see how it is even related.

Racial equality simply means don't deny anyone his right solely on his racial background. It shouldn't mean give certain racial groups certain privileges just because they are not of the majority race.

Many developed countries are overdoing it and by emphasizing the interest of a race the policy actually hurt the interest of another, and that's just wrong.

One case in point, Asian students need to score 450 points higher on the SAT on average to be admitted into public universities such as UCLA in California than black and Hispanic kids. Basically Asian students are punished for collectively work harder than black and Hispanic students. They probably should party more and study less so that the "bar on Asians" won't be erected?

Another example is many companies and public services, in predeterminer a minimum percentage of non-white workforce ratio, ends up hiring more non-white employees and fewer qualified whites solely on the basis of their ethnicity. I think it is wrong.

Race, unlike having only one leg, is not a handicap. You should not NOT hire someone because he is not white, nor should you hire someone because he is not white.

Other than the first sentence, what you said has nothing to do with transit planning. The problem with a thread like this, or anytime we talk about race, is that it quickly gets off topic and then turns into more controversial topics like affirmative action. I'm not a mod and you can say whatever you want, but in my experience threads like these tend to have a much lower "stay on topic" tolerance than others.

Does ethnicity really have that much effect on transit? What's the difference between me, a city dwelling, 30-something, married, child-free Chinese woman with a suburban upbringing and handbag addiction and a say, Indian or Italian or Jewish woman with a said upbringing?

If you ride on any bus in any large city in North America you will find that visible minorities are overrepresented in the ridership makeup. The question is - is this because minorities tend to ride buses more, or is it because something else about them causes them to ride the bus more (income, for example)? My money is on there being something else about them.
 

prosperegal

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Other than the first sentence, what you said has nothing to do with transit planning. The problem with a thread like this, or anytime we talk about race, is that it quickly gets off topic and then turns into more controversial topics like affirmative action. I'm not a mod and you can say whatever you want, but in my experience threads like these tend to have a much lower "stay on topic" tolerance than others.



If you ride on any bus in any large city in North America you will find that visible minorities are overrepresented in the ridership makeup. The question is - is this because minorities tend to ride buses more, or is it because something else about them causes them to ride the bus more (income, for example)? My money is on there being something else about them.

If it's about overrepresentation, you could say the same thing about Chinese-Canadians and certain car brands (e.g. Mercedes in the luxury market).
 

jn_12

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I voted "yes" but I'll add the caveat that I think gender equity is a much more important issue than racial equity in this city (as I don't believe racism is an issue here). If the issue was that we refused to build transit in certain areas because of racial issues (I'm thinking something like Paris, which has gone out of its way in the past to marginalize their suburbs filled with immigrants) then it would definitely be important, but I just don't see that happening here. I think gender issues are important in Toronto's planning particularly with regards to the arguments that Wong-Tam makes above and made in council.

At the very least it can't hurt to be as inclusive as possible and every planner's goal should be to try to hear from as many people as possible.
 

buildup

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One case in point, Asian students need to score 450 points higher on the SAT on average to be admitted into public universities such as UCLA in California than black and Hispanic kids. Basically Asian students are punished for collectively work harder than black and Hispanic students. They probably should party more and study less so that the "bar on Asians" won't be erected?

Another example is many companies and public services, in predeterminer a minimum percentage of non-white workforce ratio, ends up hiring more non-white employees and fewer qualified whites solely on the basis of their ethnicity. I think it is wrong.

Race, unlike having only one leg, is not a handicap. You should not NOT hire someone because he is not white, nor should you hire someone because he is not white.

I am caucasian, but I assume Asian's are outscoring whites by a similar amount in GPAs. Its not because they are Asian, its because the best and brightest from around the world come to the US to study. So its brighest Chinese etc that locals are competing with. I've been to China, they're no smarter on average than North Americans.

But I do think minorities should get some quotas until we reach a point that public schools are providing a level playing field in education. Believe me its a big mistke to rely on GPA as a sole indicator of aptitude, effort, character.
 

Brampton Mom

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Gender and race make a difference in planning. Before wheelchair accessible buses came around, stay-at-home-mothers with infants and small children were shut-in if they didn't have a car. Higher immigrant populations will be more dense and more likely to take transit. Single white males are the most likely to choose bikes as a mode of transportation.

Gender and race have an impact on transportation choices. Age is another factor. If you've ever tried to transporting one infant and two small children on a busy transit line, you'll likely agree.
 

Rainforest

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^ Age, for sure (the eldery and children have different needs and different travel patterns).

The role of race is questionable; it has no impact on transportation needs or physical abilities.

Gender would certainly affect the likehood of riding a bike, but this is only because GTA is sorely behind on the installation of bike lanes. Cycling on regular streets is a dangerous exercises and therefore males are more likely to take a risk. Elsewhere, cities with extensive bike lane networks see about equal numbers of female and male cyclists.
 

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