Public transport safety campaign: Co-passengers play important roles in perceived safety

Substance abuse and intoxicated, disturbing behaviour at public places and on public transport cause feelings of unsafety, according to safety surveys. The proposed solution is increased security measures. 

“Security measures increase safety, but perceived safety is also created by a notion that we can trust our co-passengers. Don’t leave your co-passenger alone, if you notice that your help is needed,” says Inari Viskari, a specialist at EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention. 

A new safety campaign was launched in the Helsinki region public transport system on 12 November 2018. The goal of the campaign (entitled Kaikkien kaupunki, “city for all”) is to increase perceived safety and overall comfort both when using public transport services and elsewhere in public spaces. 

Viskari explains: “Public transport passengers are part of our shared city space. The campaign asks, how do we encounter each other, and what kind of space do we create for others? The campaign includes detailed instructions on how to behave with intoxicated people on public transport.  

“It’s recommended that children travelling alone and others who may experience a situation as frightening should change places. Children should seek the company of safe adults. You don’t have to stay in the same place to talk with an intoxicated person. 

“On the other hand, it’s important to have the courage to act and to interfere if a person is being harassed, because we are all responsible for ensuring general safety and comfort. Let’s approve the fact that people are different and work together to make journeys safe and pleasant!”  

The public transport authority Helsinki Region Transport HSL, which organizes the public transport services in the region, and Helsinki City Transport HKL, which operates the trams and the Metro system, have a shared goal: safe and peaceful journeys on public transport. 

Both HSL and HKL assert, “We can’t affect everything directly, as perceived safety is increased or decreased by several factors including co-passengers. We are hoping that this campaign will encourage people to pay attention to the weaker passengers and those who need any help on public transport.”  

The campaign encourages passengers to share their experiences with public transport services. People’s stories and memories will be compiled into a poetry reading by Helsinki Poetry Connection. The reading will be held on a Poetry Tram on 15 December. #kaikkienkaupunki

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