Skip to main content

Commuters wait for the Skytrain at the Yaletown-Roundhouse station in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia on February 11, 2015.

Ben Nelms/The Globe and Mail

A year after transit police began a campaign aimed at quelling a steady increase in the number of incidents of sexual intimidation in SkyTrains, buses and stations, reports of harassment have spiked 26 per cent.

But Carolyn Baldridge, spokeswoman for the transit police, said the increase likely had more to do with growing awareness than with more people being harassed. "What we're trying to do is generate awareness, which generates more reporting, and that is our success measure," she said. Of the 2,370 incidents reported to transit police through text messages and an app launched last year for the purpose, officers were dispatched 1,703 times. Ms. Baldridge could not say whether the increase in reports of harassment since 2013 also led to an increase in charges laid. However, another spokeswoman for the force noted there were 90 sexual assault complaints, versus 65 in 2013.

Metro Vancouver transit police were at the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station Monday morning along with the Vancouver chapter of Hollaback!, a U.S. non-profit organization aimed at ending street harassment globally.

Story continues below advertisement

The group is most known for its video 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, which went viral last fall.

Hollaback! Vancouver has launched a campaign encouraging bystanders to intervene when witnessing harassment. On Monday, the transit police noted bystanders have an important role to play in making transit safer for women and vulnerable populations.

Last June, transit police introduced the OnDuty app to make it easier for passengers to report incidents of sexual intimidation.

OnDuty allows users to discreetly report harassment they experience or witness on transit. It is linked directly with the text message reporting service, which was launched in December, 2013. Ms. Baldridge said it has been downloaded almost 8,000 times, and the number of reports received each month continues to grow.

But for transit users, identifying a problem is not always easy because harassment can constitute a wide range of behaviours.

Both the transit police and Hollaback! Vancouver encourage people to report any behaviour that makes them uncomfortable.

"Sometimes it can even be a glare, and sometimes it's that conversation that makes people feel awkward," said transit police chief officer Neil Dubord.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies