Mum of two Sandra Wiens said the reason she stopped taking the bus was due to her feeling unsafe walking to and from the bus stop, and Women’s Centre for Health Matters said she is not the only woman who feels this way.
Under the new public transport network, Ms Weins’ usual bus stop along her street in Bruce was removed from the network in exchange for Rapid Route Four. To get to the stop, Ms Wiens is required to walk through a dimly lit park.
“It used to be a quick and easy walk to go to the bus stop,” she shared with Region Media. “With the change in the network, my bus route was taken out altogether so now I need to head to a Rapid bus stop, which is a much longer walk that takes me through a park which is quite dark.
“As a woman, I would not go there at night. I once took my kids to the stop during dusk and they said ‘mummy, this is scary’. It was quite scary because it is dark, you are alone, there is no line of sight in the park. It might be fine during the day, but at night it is not.
“It is no longer convenient and it is no longer a safe route that I could take before.”
Ms Wiens said she no longer takes the bus and will now drive her car to and from work, one of many women making the decision to hop off the network.
Women’s Centre for Health Matters CEO Marcia Williams said the centre kept hearing from individual women about how the new bus network had affected them, so they decided to conduct a survey to find out how the changes have affected women and their sense of security.
“We started to realise that this isn’t just a few women and that this is more widespread,” Ms Williams shared. “So we launched the survey to see how many women didn’t feel safe and to see if there are particular stops or if it is across Canberra.
“Quite a few women are telling us that they aren’t catching buses anymore because they don’t feel safe at and walking to their bus stop. It’s not the bus itself or the change in route, its the bus stop and having to navigate from that new bus stop to home.”
Ms Williams said there are several public transport stops that have been raised as a concern by a number of women, including the Philip Avenue light rail stop.
“We know that a woman’s perception of safety will stop them from using places or spaces,” she said. “For women, it’s about the perception of safety, so even though the bus stop seems safe to Transport Canberra, women will not use it if they don’t feel safe.
“Once the survey is finished, we will be able to map if there are particular bus stops and what the issues are.”
To fill out the survey before it closes on 14 September, click here.