Following a woman allegedly being sexually assaulted and kidnapped aboard an MBTA bus by its driver Saturday night, we asked readers if they felt comfortable riding the T, whether on a bus or its subways.
Of the 612 total responses, the majority said they felt “somewhat at risk,” representing about 29 percent of respondents. Of those who responded “somewhat at risk,” most self-identified as women (57 percent).
“I feel safe if there are other passengers, it’s light outside, or there’s cameras on the bus,” Leanne, 39, of Allston, wrote. “I don’t feel safe if I’m alone on the bus or the driver is male, older, and I know I can’t overpower him.”
“I don’t necessarily feel unsafe, but the air filtration does not seem great on busy subway cars,” Morgan, 29 of Boston, said. “I feel safe when I catch a somewhat empty T (wearing a mask, of course), but crowded subway cars scare me. Buses with their windows open are ideal.”
The remaining votes included 23 percent felt “somewhat safe,” followed by 22 percent feeling “very much at risk,” and 19 percent felt “very safe.” Ten percent said they felt neither safe nor unsafe.
For those who responded “somewhat safe,” 54 percent of respondents were men and 46 percent were women, a near even split. However, for those who responded “very much at risk,” many more men felt this way — 53 percent versus 32 percent women. Six percent were genderqueer or non-binary, 5 percent were not identified, and 4 percent were agender.
Of those who responded “very safe,” many more men felt this way — 67 percent over 27 percent of women. Three percent were not identified, 2 percent were genderqueer or non-binary, and 1 percent were agender.
When asked to elaborate on why they felt one way or the other, responses varied.
Somewhat at risk
“Trains are ancient, little to no security patrolling stations.” – Jim, 29, Boston
“The whole environment of the MBTA is very dirty and dangerous feeling to me. There’s no cameras on the trains, MBTA staff rarely check in on passengers past the door / turnstiles, and most of the tracks and equipment are older than I am.” – Nate, 34
“The T does little to prevent crowding on its subway lines.”
“Security cameras, transit police and vigilant fellow riders help to make the system as safe as can be expected.”
“I always have a huge breakfast of eggs, broccoli, and pinto beans, so I know I’m armed with toxic gas if needed.” – Willie, 57, Dorchester
“I try to treat other passengers with respect and politeness, and I hope they do the same. Seems other passengers try to mind their own business, and are respectful.” – Gene, 68, Quincy
Very much at risk
“Close proximity to others with no assurance of how safe they have been in the pandemic, air circulation in the commuter rail car and whether they have been fully vaccinated.” – Jim, 47, Walpole
“It’s a very dangerous place to ride a bus or to live. You’re inviting death.” – Rhea, 72, Watertown
“I feel very unsafe due to the amount of times that I have been approached in a dangerous manner by other riders.” – Briana, 36, Danvers
“I have been utilizing mass transit related services commuting in ad out of Boston for 35 years. I have never experienced any issue in terms of safety concerns. Furthermore, being fully vaccinated I have no trepidation’s using public services.”
“It’s well lit in most places.”
“Not worried about personal safety, but definitely worried about COVID safety.”
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.
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