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York Region Transit/Viva – Personal Space: Taking action against sexual harassment

Harassment and sexual assault on public transit are under-reported crimes, but a growing concern. Our York Region Transit/Viva (YRT/Viva) Personal Space campaign was developed in partnership with York Regional Police to deter potential abusers and make passengers aware that they need to report any verbal, physical, or sexual harassment on-board YRT/Viva vehicles.

Our team explored a number of approaches to develop a concept that would empower riders but not frighten them. The chosen approach shows an abusive encounter in a sinister light, but in each case the abuse and the abuser are stopped by an onboard security or police officer. Personal Space ran on YRT/Viva transit properties, as well as in print and online.

During the campaign, the most dire offences previously reported — “assault” and “disturbance” — fell considerably from 2011 to 2013, while the reporting of other incidents increased. The change in reported incidents indicates that transit users are willing, as a result of our Personal Space campaign, to come forward and report harassment and related issues.

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