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Julie Babinard's blog

Anti-harassment campaigns unite transport systems to change behavior worldwide.

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Photo: Henrik Berger Jørgensen / Flickr

France is the latest country to have announced a public awareness campaign in an effort to reduce sexual harassment in public transport. The campaign includes posters and a video with fictitious comments reflecting examples of inappropriate remarks that women hear while using today’s public transport. The public awareness campaign is part of a national plan to combat sexual harassment and echoes similar campaigns in other major cities, including New York and London. (Read story here)

Owing in part to national and global reports that have provided increasing evidence on the importance of the problem, public transport authorities and local officials are finally taking notice of sexual harassment. It is only recently that sexual harassment in public transport has risen at the forefront of policy discussions and has been exposed as a global problem. Alarming findings last year from a poll taken by the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on the world’s most dangerous systems for women. (Click here to discover more about the poll). The poll conducted in 15 of the world's largest capitals and in New York, the most populous city in the United States, concluded that six in 10 women in major Latin American cities had been physically harassed while using transport systems, with Bogota, Colombia, found to have the most unsafe public transportation, followed by Mexico City and Lima, Peru.

Several approaches have been considered to curb sexual harassment of women in public transport, ranging from setting up CCTV on platforms and improving lighting to launching women-only initiatives. Yet, there is no silver bullet for dealing with gender-based violence in transportation and urban settings. Options such as women only forms of transport have shown that segregating by gender are neither cost effective nor do they address the fundamental issues that trigger harassment.  

The need to improve transport impact evaluations to better target the Bottom 40%

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In line with the World Bank’s overarching new goals to decrease extreme poverty to 3 % of the world's population by 2030 and to raise the income of the bottom 40% in every country, what can the transport sector do to provide development opportunities such as access to employment and services to the poorest?

Estimating the direct and indirect benefits of transport projects remains difficult. Only a handful of rigorous impact evaluations have been done as the methodologies are technically and financially demanding. There are also differences between the impact of rural and urban projects that need to be carefully anticipated and evaluated.

Can we simplify the methodologies?

Despite the Bank’s rich experience with transport development projects, it remains quite difficult to fully capture the direct and indirect effects of improved transport connectivity and mobility on poverty outcomes. There are many statistical problems that come with impact evaluation. Chief among them, surveys must be carefully designed to avoid some of the pitfalls that usually hinder the evaluation of transport projects (sample bias, timeline, direct vs. indirect effects, issues with control group selection, etc.).

Impact evaluation typically requires comparing groups that have similar characteristics but one is located in the area of a project (treatment group), therefore it is likely to be affected by the project implementation, while the other group is not (control group). Ideally, both groups must be randomly selected and sufficiently large to minimize sample bias. In the majority of road transport projects, the reality is that it is difficult to identify control groups to properly evaluate the direct and indirect impact of road transport improvements. Also, road projects take a long time to be implemented and it is difficult to monitor the effects for the duration of a project on both control and treatment groups. Statistical and econometric tools can be used to compensate for methodological shortcomings but they still require the use of significant resources and knowhow to be done in a systematic and successful manner.

Is Public Transport Affordable?

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When planning transport systems in developing countries, one of the main challenges is to evaluate the proportion of income spent by poorer households on transport as well as in understanding transport patterns in relation to residential location, travel distance and travel mode. High real estate prices in urban centers often force low-income households in developing countries to live farther out in the periphery, with consequences on the way urban agglomerations develop and with subsequent effects on the levels of motorization, congestion, local air pollution, physical activity and the expansion of urban poverty.

Acting Now to Achieve Accessible Transportation and Universal Mobility

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There is great diversity of needs among people with disabilities. Specific impairment may be linked to a physical, hearing, speech, visual or cognitive condition. And the reality is that almost everyone will face temporary or permanent disability at some point in life. This can be caused by a number of factors, ranging from disease, old age to accidents.

Harassment of Women in the Public Space and Transport

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For nearly a month, I have not read a single newspaper without an article on the harassment of women in the public space and transport.  In newspaper articles across the world, there is a brewing sentiment echoing the story of violence that a woman recently faced on a bus in Delhi.

A Transport Fare Card Moves Rio Closer to Social Inclusion and Carbon Emission Reductions

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Mr. Julio Lopes, Secretary of Transport of the State of Rio de Janeiro, recently visited the World Bank to present what the city is doing to improve the quality of public transport. It is a fascinating example of how cities can improve urban transport, with a clear target of benefiting the poor and reducing a city’s carbon footprint.

The Future of Driving and Finding the Right Incentives for Behavior Change

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What would blogs be good for if it were not for their intent on steering a bit of controversy?
So here it is… I do not believe that behavior change interventions can effect lasting change in people’s travel patterns unless real choices are available to them within the local context.

Getting ready for ICT’s potential to make transport safer and more efficient

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How relevant is ICT for transport? The emergence of low-cost open-source mapping tools; widespread cellular network coverage in developing countries; declining costs of mobile phone hardware; and increasing Internet use by public agencies have resulted in unprecedented opportunities to support transport planning and management in developing countries.

What do existing household surveys tell us about gender? It depends which sector you ask

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A very good panel discussion this week on Gender Equality Data and Tools at the Bank reminded me of the research we did in transport on household surveys with my friend and a World Bank colleague, Kinnon Scott. In retrospect, this work should be better advertised as it touches upon many of the points that were raised on the importance of gender-relevant data for policy. The three main questions that follow permeate t

Overcoming Gaps in Transport Access in the Middle East and North Africa: Share Your Views

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Transport planning in MENA and other regions does not routinely address gender issues and sex disaggregated data is limited as is gender and transport expertise. In the MENA region, as in many other developing regions, women’s mobility is constrained by limited transport supply and also by social factors that can reduce the access of women to economic opportunities and voice in local decision-making.