Govt to tackle urgent issues on women's safety in public transport

PETALING JAYA: A systematic programme to address weaknesses in public transportation routes and provide gender-responsive facilities is in the works, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

He said from feedback gathered, many women are worried when using public transport, not only while on the vehicles but also when arriving at their destinations.

"Poorly lit and uneven sidewalks leading to bus stops and train stations are part of the problem.

ALSO READ: Female commuters hail women-only coach on MRT Kajang line

"These are some of the pain points that public transport users, women in particular, feel strongly about," he said in his speech at the Women’s Safety in Transit and Transport Industry symposium here Tuesday (Nov 14).

Loke said this was also discussed by the Cabinet Committee to address traffic congestion.

"If we talk about addressing traffic jams and (want) people to take public transport, these are the issues we have to address.

"It's not just about infrastructure, but the whole ecosystem.

"Not only about discounts but the safety of going to the stations," he added.

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Loke added that the most recent committee meeting also agreed to pay more attention to such issues at the local level.

"The committee instructed the Local Government Development Ministry to source funds and (work with) local councils in Selangor and the Klang Valley.

"Every local council has to identify bus stations and sidewalks that need upgrading.

"We can expect at least 100 new or improved bus stations and sidewalks leading to train stations," he said.

On the women-only coaches introduced along the Kajang MRT Line recently, Loke said it was a small yet powerful message that women’s safety and comfort mattered.

Loke added that male passengers had criticised him heavily over the decision.

"I feel strongly that when something is right, I need to do it despite criticism.

"There will be no U-turn on the women’s coaches,” he said, adding that similar measures may be introduced on other routes and forms of transportation.

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Although ridership along public transportation routes in the Klang Valley had yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, Loke said 62% of regular public transport users were female.

He added that two-thirds of passengers in the 21-to-30 age bracket were women.

Loke said his ministry was equally committed to addressing other matters affecting women within the transportation sector.

"For instance, the rise of women in leadership positions. They can influence policies that address not only passenger safety but also the well-being of female employees in traditionally male-dominated roles," he said.

He added that diversity in the transportation workforce contributed to innovative safety solutions, with women engineers and designers promoting infrastructure that is safer for all.

"Creating safe spaces and support networks for women is essential.

"Mentorship programmes empower women to excel in their careers while feeling safe and valued," he said.

Also present at the conference were representatives from the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association, the International Women in Shipping and Trade Association, and Women in Logistics and Transport (Selangor) and Women's Aid Organisation, among others.

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