From the ABS survey, assaults in Victoria, were estimated at 257,000, and for females: 38% felt unsafe while walking, whereas 33% felt safe; 11% felt unsafe waiting at stops, whereas 22% felt safe; and 27% felt unsafe on public transport, whereas 24% felt safe. Of the violence toward females, 91,000 was from known persons and 32,000 from strangers.
Charges for assaults are recorded by police, and were previously dissected by cars, public transport and the street. Walking to transport or waiting at stops was not separately identified. Estimates shown here, are related to transport, are made from assaults by type, and are increasing. Recent reporting of the charges is dissected into domestic violence and stranger violence categories, with half the assaults being in each. Protective Service Officers have been used to patrol train stations, but they can’t be everywhere. Low proportions of people feel safe on public transport at night. Costing of assaults has not included all factors and the cost of assaults in Melbourne is estimated at ~$60M, much less than crash costs.
There is considerable under-reporting of assaults. Current projects for public transport increase exposure to strangers, with high volume transport, designed for crush loading, requiring more changes of vehicle, have greater wait times, have longer distances to walk, and very little video surveillance. Design for crush loading in not appropriate during a pandemic, nor for public health generally. This standard of security will never be acceptable to the public and reliance on PSO’s without structural changes to the system is not enough. Only private vehicles will suffice.
The strategy proposed is to reduce exposure to strangers with private vehicles, and personal routes from origin to destination, without vehicle change, with vehicles on demand at stops to avoid waiting, and to have stops close to home and destination, say within 100m at destinations and 2km near homes, to minimise exposure when walking. A complementary component is to provide for the vehicles to carry bikes and mobility scooters to be used for the "last mile" of trips, and to provide safer bike paths as feeder routes.
Video monitoring with audio communication is proposed for inside and outside of vehicles and at stops. Communication is proposed with the control room and with PSO’s. Real-time facial recognition and integration with public lighting should also be provided. Privacy concerns associated with facial recognition and video recording will need to be taken on board with appropriate use and storage of the information, under the supervision of Police. Vehicles should transport offenders to custody.
The strategy proposed to counter domestic violence is by using word recognition software to identify lack of respect and to “call it out”, progressing to reporting and follow-up.
Requirements: To reduce assaults and for public health: vehicles must be private; able to carry mobility scooters; have personal routes; have video monitoring with real-time facial recognition; and always be available at stops, that are at close proximity to origins and destinations. Video monitoring and audio communication is required to the control room and to PSO’s. Response to facial recognition should include transporting offenders to custody. Identifying and reporting domestic violence will require developments.