MTA Builds on Effort to Address Unwanted Sexual Contact with Launch of New Public Information Campaign

MTA Launches Information Campaign on Unwanted Sexual Conduct

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has launched a public information campaign as part of an ongoing effort to protect and prevent customers from becoming victims of  inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact on MTA property or on a train or bus. The MTA also has set up a web page to educate customers about their options when it comes to reporting such activity, what to do if you are a victim, and tips on how to avoid becoming one.

The public information campaign includes two posters reminding customers to report unwanted sexual contact or behavior to an MTA employee, police officer or online at mta.info. One says, "Unwanted sexual conduct shouldn't be a part of anyone's commute." The other reminds customers: "You can make our public transportation system safer one action at a time." Both posters also have translations in Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian and Spanish. 

The campaign, like the new web page, was the result of discussions between the MTA and advocates for victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence concerned about continued complaints from riders about incidents that occur on the subway. They were developed with the assistance of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, The New York City Anti-Violence Project, as well as input from law enforcement. 

The posters are posted in prominent positions inside 2,500 subway cars, to draw attention to any victims or witnesses. The message is clear: Don’t keep it to yourself. Customers can alert authorities whether in the subway, on a bus or while riding Metro-North Commuter Railroad or the Long Island Rail Road. Customers should report any act of improper sexual conduct to an MTA employee, an NYPD or MTA Police Officer or railroad crew member. Reports will immediately be forwarded to law enforcement for investigation.

In 2009, NYC Transit launched the “Sexual Harassment is a Crime in the subway, too” campaign urging riders to report such incidents to MTA employees or NYPD Officers. Automated announcements with the same message have played on-board subway trains and platforms since then. 

“We realized we could do more with the tools at our disposal to beef up our efforts to educate our customers that no matter what service they rely on, they have a right not to be harassed while on our system,” said Paul Fleuranges, MTA Senior Director of Corporate Communications. “As an informational campaign, we wanted to go right to the heart of an issue that is of great concern to our riders. We want them to know that they have options in case they encounter this type of behavior.”

The MTA's last two customer education campaign efforts understandably focused on the victims of sexual assault, and the current effort builds on this by not only reinforcing victim-oriented messaging, but also adding information to guide witnesses as to what they can do if they observe an incident. A companion brochure will also be developed for the current campaign.

“The Alliance applauds the efforts of the MTA to make subways safer for passengers. Unwanted sexual comments, forcible touching and assault are unacceptable anywhere including on public transit. This campaign makes that clear and gives riders the tools to make a report that will help law enforcement and MTA authorities assure a safer ride to commuters,” said Mary Haviland, Executive Director, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

If you are in the subway system, you can also report an incident by using a Customer Assistance Intercom or Help Point Intercom. Both devices will connect you directly with NYC Transit personnel who can take your report and alert the NYPD.

The web page allows customers to report an incident online, with the option of doing so anonymously; gives safety tips; explains how to reduce risk; tells riders who may witness an incident what steps to take as well as how to safely intervene and also lists contact info for helpful resources.

Remember: No one should be a victim.