Factors Influencing Young Peoples’ Perceptions of Personal Safety on Public Transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - mass transit, place - australasia, ridership - young people, ridership - perceptions, planning - personal safety/crime


safety, young people, public transport, perceptions, Melbourne


This paper explores factors influencing perceptions of safety on public transport using an empirical analysis of a survey of young people in Melbourne, Australia. In the literature, some studies disagree as to the extent to which perceptions of safety are affected by actual experience of crime. Some suggest perceptions of personal safety are not justified by actual crime rates, whereas others find that direct experience of unsafe incidents results in greater safety concerns. Related research suggests that psychological factors can make some people feel uncomfortable on public transport and that this may increase perceptions of poor personal safety. However, these links have not yet been tested empirically in the public transport context. In this study, three statistically reliable MANOVA models demonstrated that psychological influences, i.e., “feeling comfortable with people you don’t know on public transport,” had the largest individual influence on perceptions of safety with a medium-size effect. Gender and actual experiences of a personal safety incident also influenced perceptions of personal safety but with a small effect size. Overall, the research suggests that feelings of anxiety and discomfort associated with traveling with people you do not know is the most influential factor driving negative feelings of personal safety on public transport. Gender and actual experience of unsafe incidents were not as important. Areas for further research are identified.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Journal of Public Transportation, copyright remains with them.