37% citizens surveyed have experienced or observed scuffle, harassment, abuse in public transport including flights, trains and buses; 69% believe creating awareness about acceptable/ unacceptable behavior will help reduce such incidents
- ● 10% indicated having witnessed or experienced such incidents 4-6 times in last 3 years
- ● 27% indicated one to three times in the last three years
March 14, 2023, New Delhi: On Sunday March 12th, Air India flight crew handed over a passenger to security for smoking in the lavatory and unruly behaviour. On March 3rd, a student flying on a New Delhi-bound American Airlines flight from New York reportedly caused inconvenience to a fellow passenger when he urinated on his seat on board in an inebriated state. Though the inconvenienced passenger did not lodge a formal complaint, the incident was brought to the notice of the pilot who reported to Air Traffic Control (ATC) at IGI airport and the student was taken into custody for probe. These are not lone incidents, as more than two incidents of inebriated passengers peeing on fellow passengers or misbehaving have been reported over last few months.
Air rage, unruly behavior of passengers and staff too have become hot topics on social media and been in the news. Some of the airlines which did not report such incidents or did not take timely action have been fined by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after probe and in the case of one errant passenger, barred from flying for four months.
On January 19th a Metro bus conductor in Chennai was suspended after a video of him misbehaving with a woman passenger went viral on social media. In December 2021, Tamil Nadu's Transport Department had published a draft gazette notification amending the state Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, pertaining to the responsibilities of bus conductors and drivers. The amendments, which came into effect from January 2022, in addition to empowering the bus staff, brought in provisions preventing the bus staff from touching women under the guise of supporting them from boarding and alighting the bus.
Despite rules and regulations in place for the safety of staff and passengers using public transport whether buses, trains, cabs, ferries or even flights, there is little enforcement. Thus aggrieved people have taken to sharing their woes online. This is done not only on social networking sites but also through dedicated websites. The tales of woes and anger include incidents of groping and other sexual harassment of women and girls, co-passengers not respecting the rights of people who have confirmed booking, staff behaving rudely, the transport vehicle not being maintained properly, passengers damaging the vehicle on whim or being untidy or even inconsiderate like talking loudly, playing loud music or throwing garbage near their seat. Newspapers often report such cases including women being molested and thrown out of trains for resisting the tormentors.
For every case of misbehaviour on public transport that gets reported there are likely hundreds of cases that aren’t getting reported, especially in tier 2 towns and beyond. To understand how common is misbehaviour or unruly behaviour in public transport like flights, trains, buses, etc., LocalCircles conducted a national survey. The survey received over 20,000 responses from citizens located in 321 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
37% of respondents have experienced or observed harassment, scuffle or abuse in public transport at least once in the last 3 years
On the issue of questionable behavior on public transport, it is time authorities took a firm stance on what is unacceptable and penalize the miscreants. Following up on complaints of several harassed people, LocalCircles strived to find out the magnitude of the problem. The survey first strived to find out “how many times has it happened in the last 3 years that you experienced or observed a scuffle/ harassment/ abuse in flights, trains, bus, other public transport?” Over 10,000 LocalCircles citizens across the country responded with 37% reporting that they have experienced or observed harassment, scuffle or abuse in public transport, while 56% denied having experienced or observed such incidents in the last 3 years. In addition, 7% gave no direct response. Of those who did experience such behaviour, 10% admitted to having witnessed or experienced such incidents 4-6 times in the last 3 years; 16% indicated 2-3 times and 11% indicated one time.
69% hopeful creating awareness about unacceptable and acceptable behavior when on board public transport and a signed declaration when buying a ticket will improve the situation
LocalCircles then sought to find out whether “creating awareness about unacceptable and acceptable behavior when on board public transport and a signed declaration when buying a ticket will improve the situation”. Of the 10,683 respondents to this question, 69% expressed optimism that such a step could improve the situation. The survey data shows 46% of respondents are “definitely” sure on this course of action while 23% feel it “might have some positive impact”. Among the remaining respondents, 11% have no hope that the situation will improve “even after awareness campaigns and strict punishment/ penalty”; while 16% feel that such a step will work only if “strict punishment/ penalty” is enforced, 4% of the respondents gave no clear reply.
In summary, 37% citizens surveyed said that they have observed unruly behaviour on public transport like flights, trains, buses, etc., in the last 3 years indicating that these instances are fairly common and majority of them go unreported. Many a times though people may not be directly involved in the scuffle, just observing it leaves a bad taste and experience with them.The survey also shows that 69% are optimistic about awareness campaigns and punishments/ penalties are likely to make a difference to reduce scuffles, harassment/ abuse on public transport and it must be done. Creation of hotlines or apps through which any traveler can report such instances is another step that must be taken, according to people. Other steps like complete or some restrictions on amount of liquor served on board flights along with mandatory advance declarations on behaviour norms and repercussions of violation are other suggestions that citizens shared on LocalCircles.
The survey received over 20,000 responses from citizens located in 321 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 47% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.