Affordable and reliable transportation is key to women’s safety, particularly women who are experiencing, or at risk of, violence. The BC Society of Transition Houses launched the Transportation Project to conduct research on transportation needs for women experiencing violence in rural communities and to facilitate pilot projects focused on solutions. The focus of this project is on rural transportation between communities where there are fewer transportation options. The first stage of this project worked to determine transportation needs, to identify existing gaps and barriers, and to explore possible solutions. Phase 1 research methods included a province-wide survey, a literature review, pilot project and Solutions Lab with transportation providers, a transition house and a safe home in northern BC.
The initial findings revealed that the transportation needs of women experiencing or at risk of violence are not being met. Transportation gaps included limited routes and infrequent service. Barriers to transportation use included lack of confidentiality and anonymity, lack of trust in the system, and lack of knowledge about available transportation options. The pilot project identified some promising practices to improve transportation for women, including: partnerships with transportation providers, genderbased and trauma-informed training for transportation providers, leveraging community assets, practical solutions to confidentiality concerns, communication about transportation options, and safety planning for hitchhiking. These practical, local actions would also be useful in other locations. In 2021, BCSTH will continue this work with funding from the Vancouver Foundation.