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8 chapter two Literature review A review of a variety of sources found that the subject of difficult transit customers apparently has not been of great interest to scholarly researchers. An extensive search was conducted using the Transportation Research International Documentation (TRID) database. TRID is an integrated data- base that combines the records from TRBâs Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) database and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmentâs Joint Transport Research Centreâs International Transport Research Documentation database. TRID provides access to more than 1 million records of transportation research worldwide. Using key search words such as âdifficult transit passengers,â âproblematic transit passengers,â âdisruptive transit passengers,â âdifficult transit customer situations,â âtransit passenger code of conduct,â âdenial of service for transit passengers,â âtrespass warrants for transit passengers,â âdealing with disruptive transit passengers,â âtrespassers,â âaggression,â âcrimes aboard public vehicles,â âcrimes aboard buses,â and âthreats,â âbehavior,â âviolent crimes,â under the categories of âpublic transportationâ and âpublic transportâ resulted in relatively few scholarly papers or professional reports dedicated to the subject. There was a similar absence of articles on the subject of difficult customers in the last few years of Passenger Transport, the APTA weekly publication. The publication usually highlights the positive advances transit agencies are making in providing service or new equipment and facilities. The most productive source of information on the subject of difficult customer situations came from searching articles from the services Transitnews.net and Transit Intelligence, which feature stories on public transit from around the country; however, the archives of the two services do not go back far. Searches were also made through services such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Codes of ConduCt, teChnoLogy and design soLutions, and enforCement PraCtiCes to disCourage inaPProPriate Behavior An article covering Pierce Transit in Tacoma, Washington, entitled âPierce Transit Cracking Down on Disruptive Behavior on Buses,â described the agencyâs Not On Our Bus program, which is aimed primarily at bus routes that serve high schools. The agency provided an increased presence of various officers (Tacoma police, transit police, and security personnel) on buses and at transit centers to keep the system safe from people who litter, spit, smoke outside designated areas, or threaten others (1). Passengers who violate Pierce Transitâs code of conduct could be banned for 90 days from the agencyâs facilities or vehicles. The program was described as having been successful because the number of people banned from the system decreased each year in the 4 years following the programâs establishment. The article âDonât Be a Stinky Passenger, and Other Rules for Riding Missoulaâs Busesâ (2) reported on Mountain Line Transit Authorityâs Passenger Code of Conduct in the state of Montana. The code prohibits bringing âonto transit property, odors and substances which unreasonably disturb others or interfere with their use of the transit system, whether such odors or substances are from oneâs person, clothes, articles, accompanying animal or any other source.â A similar effort was reported by the Sacramento Bee, which covered the Sacramento Regional Transit Districtâs attempt to address passengers who are disruptive or offensive as a result of odor, loud sounds, or inappropriate dress. A Sacramento Regional Transit District staff report cites administrative rules that lay out the circum- stances under which someone can be forced off a bus or train: âIf the individual refuses to stop the prohibited conduct, they are asked to leave the vehicle or premises. If they refuse, authorized person- nel may remove the offending individual from the vehicle or premises using the least amount of force
9 necessaryâ (3). The intent of the rules is to enhance the overall experience for riders and attract more choice riders. However, advocates for people who are homeless complained that the effect of the rules would be discriminatory and in violation of the civil rights of the homeless and asked if, for example, the rules would be enforced equally against sweaty rugby players coming home after a match. âNJ Transit Is Recording the Conversations of Thousands of Its Ridersâ was the headline of a news story noting that New Jersey Transit was installing onboard cameras and audio recording devices for the safety and security of passengers (4). The equipment was being put in place not only for the deter- rence and prosecution of crime but also for deterring unruly behavior. The article notes that although video surveillance has become generally accepted to enhance security, civil libertarians question whether private conversations can be legally recorded. In the past 4 years a number of newspaper articles were written about the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agencyâs attempts to address undesirable activities on vehicles and at stations (5â7). One article describes a new law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown that, among other things, gave BART police officers the right to ban anyone caught fighting or acting unruly on BART vehicles or property. The agency is allowed to ban anyone who commits a misdemeanor or felony offense, which includes assaults, prostitution, and drug dealing, but three lesser offenses that pile up within 90 days also can lead to a ban. The offenses include urinating or defecating outside of restrooms, tagging BART property with graffiti, blocking passengers from coming or going, or carrying hazardous materi- als on board. The article notes that BART police officers completed extensive training on applying the law, including ways to work with special needs populations, such as individuals who have mental illness or homeless persons. On the desk computers of BART employees who work inside the kiosks at stations are the names and pictures of those who have been banned. In 2016, local newspapers reported on the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authorityâs new initiative to make using transit more attractive for the safety of its existing riders and attract new ones. The Ride with Respect program was prompted by concerns from existing and potential agency customers. Under the new code of conduct, prohibited activities include solicitation, selling goods or services, loud music, spitting, littering, eating on transit vehicles, drinking on transit vehicles without using resealable drink containers, fighting, and disruptive behavior. Many of these activities are vio- lations of state law and could result in arrest. The policy also promised more police presence, vehicle security cameras, and a mobile phone app to allow customers to report problems (8, 9). Difficult customer situations in public transportation are not unique to the United States. The Department for Transport of Great Britain produced the transmittal âAnti-social Behavior on Public Transport: Safety Measures,â in which transit agency personnel are reminded of the importance of: â¢ Closed circuit television cameras fitted in bus and railway stations, vehicles, and shelters to deter antisocial behavior; â¢ Screens to protect drivers from attack; â¢ DNA kits to identify offenders who spit at staff; â¢ A two-way radio or other means to contact an appropriate person in the event of emergency; and â¢ Appropriate training and powers to carry out their jobs. Although it is prepared in a British context, the guidance is particularly helpful for noting how to deal with disorderly students or youth (10). In a 2007 Australian report Coxon notes that difficult passenger situations are not limited to onboard vehicle incidents, but also occur at the before or after components of transit systems, includ- ing bus stops, rail stations, and park-and-ride lots (11). Coxonâs paper examines how milder forms of antisocial behavior might be reduced through prudent design strategies. This can include âanimatingâ the areas where pedestrians get on and off public transit by creating stations with more activities and more people, rather than merely a platform where people enter or leave the bus or rail. Or it can mean placing stops and stations in mixed zoning areas, where pedestrians and other people can coexist. The presence of other activities and other people is thought to help passengers and riders feel safer and make them less likely to cause disruptions. There is also concern about vandalism, such as
10 graffiti, around stations. To help fix this problem, examples of âart wallsâ have been put in place in Melbourne; such walls make âtaggingâ with graffiti difficult because the walls are constructed and designed to make tagging by individuals noticeable. The strategy of playing classical music at major terminals and stations is also mentioned as a means to discourage loitering by teenagers, who are most likely to cause discomfort to others. Courtesy CamPaigns to disCourage inaPProPriate Customer Behavior In September 2014, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) started a new initiative to deal with disruptive and loud passengers based on comments the agency received through social media and other customer service channels. The Dude Itâs Rude program is used as a direct message to inform people that certain behavior is not proper. Ads for the campaign are featured on interior car placards, decals, and digital displays on SEPTAâs trains, buses, and trolleys and on schedule timetables (Figures 1 and 2). The agency reported that most passengers appreciated the blunt phrases that address issues that can reduce the type of behavior that contributes to a less-than-positive riding experience and can possibly reduce incidents of conflict on their vehicles. This type of campaign has been put into place in a number of large transit agencies in the United States and throughout the world (12). In 2015, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) used feedback from social media, phone calls, e-mails to CTA Customer Service, and observations of CTA personnel to develop a courtesy campaign to improve passenger comfort and discourage inconsiderate behavior on its vehicles. The courtesy campaign messages cover a wide range of discourteous passenger behaviors, from littering and eating on trains to playing loud music or talking loudly on a cell phone. Examples of messages that avoid subtlety include âYour maid doesnât work here,â âYouâre not the CTAâs DJ,â and âNobody cares about your conversation,â with accompanying photographs of people caught in the act of leaving trash, playing their music too loudly, or talking too loudly on their cell phones (Figures 3 and 4). CTA officials hope the campaign will encourage customers to think more about courteous behavior on CTA trains and buses and help prevent potential arguments that might arise because of inconsiderate behavior (13). Another example of a transit agency trying to encourage people to change their behavior and reduce littering by passengers is in Hong Kong, where an ad campaign uses the âDNA lifted from discarded wrappers and other trash to create digital mugshots of the perpetrators, which are then plastered all across the cityâ (14). FIGURE 1 The most challenging and difficult customer situations for transit agencies: âDude Itâs Rude: You have earbuds for a reason.â Source: SEPTA.
FIGURE 2 Direct message designed to discourage improper behavior: âTrains arenât dining cars.â Source: SEPTA. FIGURE 3 CTA courtesy campaign message: âNo one is interested in your conversation.â Source: CTA. FIGURE 4 CTA courtesy campaign message: âYour maid doesnât work here.â Source: CTA.
12 On a more serious note, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) started dis- playing antiâsexual harassment signs across the Metro system in 2015. The ads are part of a campaign designed to raise awareness that harassment of fellow riders is not tolerated in the Metro system (Figure 5). The agency is determined to make Metro a safe space for its customers so that they can travel without being harassed or intimidated by anyone. The campaignâs intent is to put would-be perpetrators on notice that WMATA will pursue any allegation that is brought to the agencyâs attention. The ads feature hands representing different races and genders to illustrate that harassment is not exclusive to any one group or sex. WMATA provides a texting tip line for people who experience harassment on trains. The concept was developed in collaboration with the advocacy groups Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) and Stop Street Harassment, both of which have worked closely with Metro on this issue (15). Through the use of transit user surveys and workshops for transit users, a study completed by Rivadeneyra et al. (16) concluded that passengers in Mexico did not think that segregating buses by gender was the appropriate response to eliminating or reducing gender-based violence. Instead, the researchers found that passengers preferred three things to reduce problematic encounters. The FIGURE 5 Campaign to reduce gender- based violence: âRub against me and Iâll expose you.â Source: WMATA.
13 first was to start a communication campaign to foster healthier social behavior by riders. The second revolved around the use of technology that enabled individuals to report inappropriate behavior. The third method involved further investigation into transportation-specific technology and services that reported whether or not certain markets were safe or unsafe. An intervention referred to as the Considerate Traveler Campaign was implemented in London in 2008 and summarized in an article written by Stephen Moore (17). Surveys of transit passengers revealed that more than 70% of public transit passengers had experienced or witnessed antisocial behavior while riding public transport in London. Surveys of passengers taken before the inter vention indicated that if disruptive behavior was reduced, ridership could be increased by 11.5% in Great Britain. The Considerate Traveler Campaign addressed antisocial behavior, but rather than focusing on criminalizing minor disruptive actions, the campaign focused on bridging the gap between the differences on how passengers perceive disruptive behavior. Rather than using a campaign similar to those used in Chicago and Philadelphia, where inappropriate behavior was described and discouraged by the transit agency, the Considerate Traveler Campaign tried to get people to understand that social aspects of travel needed to be included in any understanding of how to combat antisocial behavior. According to Moore, antisocial behavior cannot be defined as a particular act; rather, it is a particular act occurring in particular circumstances and seen through the eyes of a particular person. People were encouraged to realize that what one person or group may regard as normal is interpreted as anti- social by others. The campaign appeared to have a mildly positive impact on what people regarded as antisocial behavior. deaLing with PeoPLe who are homeLess and Customers who are Less aware of their unwanted aCtions People who are homeless often use transit facilities as places to feel safe and avoid inclement weather. In an effort to achieve âa balance between providing a quality customer experience and showing compassion for people who appear to be struggling with various circumstances,â New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) established a pilot program that limited all ticketed passengers to 2 hours in seating areas. NJ Transit has a full-time social worker on staff to help people in need of assistance, and its transit police work with clergy whose focus is on the needy. NJ Transit allows community partners to come into the Atlantic City station to do outreach so organizations can link homeless people to the appropriate resources (18). One report dealing with difficult passenger situations was provided in TCRP Synthesis 121: Transit Agency Practices in Interacting with People Who Are Homeless (19). Based on responses from 55 transit agencies, 91% see homeless persons as a minor or major issue. The report finds that home- lessness is more likely to be characterized as a major issue at larger agenciesâall responding large agencies (1,000+ peak vehicles) cited people who are homeless as a major issue, whereas 93% of midsized agencies and 88% of small agencies cited people who are homeless as a major or minor issue. To deal with these issues, findings in the report reveal that partnerships between organizations are a step in the right directionâ75% of transit agency respondents partner with others. Partnerships between transit agencies and local law enforcement were seen to enhance customer security, increase help for those in need, and help in deescalating a given situation much more smoothly. The major action taken by the responding transit agencies when trying to deal with homelessness is partnering with local social services or nonprofit agencies (85% of respondents). The report also noted that interaction between transit agencies and those who are homeless is relatively constant year round, with shocks occurring during large shifts in weather (frigid cold, for example). To deal with the constant interaction, 41% of responding agencies train their new employees in issues of homeless people, whereas 41% have no training for interacting with those who are home- less. In addition, 64% of responding agencies did not have a specific budget defined for interacting with homeless persons. Large agencies were identified as being more likely to have training sessions on how to deal with people who are homeless. Twenty-eight percent of the responding agencies stated that the difficulty of dealing with people who are homeless involves behavioral issues, whereas 26% noted the problems they experience are
14 the result of excessive homeless congregations near transit facilities. One transit agency went into depth about the difficulties that transit agencies deal with, stating that some of the people who are homeless relieve themselves at bus stops, on buses, or on nearby business properties. They camp around bus stops, and when told to leave, they say they are waiting for a busâyet the bus passes and the individuals remain in place. Although there is some funding to help address these issues, the need exceeds the available resources. To deal with the obvious and inevitable occurrence of difficult passengers who are homeless, many transit agencies offer discounted tickets and reduced fares to help them travel to social service agencies, job training, or other destinations. Some transit agencies may also provide transportation between shelters and various central locations. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) Police Department created the outreach program Coffee with a Cop. The program is intended for people who are home- less to express their concerns with transit and ease tensions. The report stated that hygiene was seen as a major problem to customers and the transit agencies. To help with this issue, transit agencies have constructed and implemented their own informal policies. Transit agencies often partner with social service agencies while enforcing their own rules and policies. Sixty percent of responding transit agencies said the responsibility of dealing with those who are homeless as passengers is spread out among multiple parties, such as operations supervisors, city police, or transit police. The other 40% said the transit police usually play the lead role. The report concluded that only 16% of the respondents have dedicated staff to work with people who are homeless. Some agencies responded that, with regard to hygiene, nothing can be done. If people who are homeless have set up some type of camp in the area, they can be asked to leave based on policy. However, forcing persons out because of hygiene is a more difficult policy matter. The main theme of the report reveals that partnerships between agencies and other organizations are, so far, the most efficient way to deal with this segment of transit passengers. Because mental health issues are a reality for some who are homeless, transit agencies have collaborated with mental health agencies and other social service organizations. One transit agency was reported to offer free rides to homeless shelters in the evening when temperatures drop below freezing. Another agency noted that special buses are sent to specific locations to serve as overnight shelters during extremely cold nights. The most successful actions taken by agencies are listed in order here: the first is through partnerships/ outreach, followed by consistent enforcement of policies, fare policy modification, staff training, ban- ning passengers for multiple offenses, and enhanced maintenance. When the behavior of a passenger who is homeless becomes too difficult for the bus driver to handle, local law enforcement is called. A March 7, 2016, article, âHow SEPTA Deals with Disruptive Passengers,â provides insights into the challenge that transit agencies face when dealing with certain types of unwelcome behavior from one passenger to another (20). Some incidents are clearly criminal and lead to arrests, but transit police encounter gray areas of repeated toxic, but not criminal, behavior. The article focuses on a passenger who consistently makes rude remarks to other passengers. In addition, the article notes how SEPTA police have a playbook that recognizes the possibility of mental illness as a cause for disruptive behavior and advocates solving problems without the use of handcuffs and citations. Some passengers might have a type of mental illness that causes them to have recurring behaviors that might not be criminal but are uncontrollable and can cause other passengers to feel unsafe. Plainclothes officers are regularly assigned to observe disruptive people on SEPTA vehicles, specifically if the department has a picture and the person has regular travel habits. Reaching out to the offending passengerâs family is also standard, and the agency might also bring the matter to the attention of the personâs employer if it becomes a recurrent problem. SEPTA tries to resolve such problems without pursuing criminal charges if at all possible. Bringing in a passenger as a witness in a criminal proceeding is rarely attempted. Trying to ban someone from public transit typically requires a finding of criminality and a court order. However, enforcing such a ban over a vast transit network would be difficult, so transit police are encouraged to find other solutions. SEPTAâs officers receive crisis intervention team training, which teaches officers how to interact with people who have mental illness with as little conflict as possible. Their goal is to deescalate situations and not resort to physical force. The article notes that police with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
15 keep a social worker on staff to help disruptive passengers connect with mental health services. NJ Transit police also reported that they try to talk to disruptive riders before taking legal action, and usually that alone is effective. However, there simply are not enough police to provide compre- hensive coverage throughout large systems, and these types of uneasy situations will occur in the absence of blanket police coverage. training of frontLine PersonneL to address diffiCuLt Customer situations A local television news service published the article âMilwaukee County Transit System Drivers Trained to Deal with Unruly Riders,â in which an altercation between police and an unruly passenger was reported, during which the passenger had to be taken off the bus (21). Transit agency representa- tives noted that all bus drivers were trained for such scenarios before they start driving on the roads. The training includes protocols for dealing with passengers who are being disruptive, loud, or lack- ing bus payment. It was noted that Milwaukee County Transit System has a transit dispatch center available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which drivers are encouraged to call if facing disruptive passengers. The Kansas University Transportation Center published the pamphlet âDealing with Difficult Passengers,â which identifies many of the situations bus and paratransit operators need to be mind- ful ofâpeople who are having bad days or have disabilities that transit operators might not understand, and those legitimately upset with service failures (22). Among other things, the pamphlet notes that communication skills are among the most important abilities any vehicle operator must practice and use, particularly the ability to truly listen, be empathic, and use âI statementsâ rather than âyou statementsâ to help prevent encounters from escalating unnecessarily. The pamphlet notes that most people do not have these skills naturally and transit agencies must make the effort to train their employees with a hands-on, interactive training program. The Coast Mountain Bus Company in British Columbia, Canada, has established a program that uses a âdefuserâ team. The team is made up of approximately 35 volunteer transit employees who have been trained to help bus operators cope with a variety of traumatic events, such as a bus driver involved in a fatal accident or one who has been spat at or assaulted by a passenger. Many of the defusers are former police or firefighters who go through rigorous training to ensure they have good listening skills, empathy, and strength to help bus drivers deal with and recover from incidents that are highly stressful. The defusers use a structured process that gives the driver the chance to explain what happened, react, and then deal with it. Drivers donât need to accept the help of the defuser, but it has proven to be a valuable service to approximately one-third of all drivers to whom it has been offered (23). Salomonson and Fellesson (24) conducted research based on 23 in-depth interviews with con- ductors on regional trains and bus drivers on local buses in Sweden. The study reflected the thoughts and opinions of frontline personnel compared with those of managers, and uncovered the practical ways frontline employees dealt with difficult customers. The report points out the challenge of always following the rules and protocols and the need to exercise best judgment at all times. The study finds that three strategies worked the most effectively to deal with difficult customers: the employeesâ appearance, their interactional skills with the customers, and their use of the physical environment. One driver noted that his large size, tattoos, and clean shaven head helped deter passenger misbehavior. It is noted that appearance is also about strengthening the position of power vis-Ã -vis the passengerâ standing while a passenger is sitting, for example, and knowing just how far the conductor should be from the passenger to convey authority but not intimidation. Thus, it is noted that younger female employees find it more difficult to quell or prevent disruptions. One of the techniques for interacting with disruptive customers is to simply let the customer speak and vent his or her concerns (if the customer is being too loud, the employee asks the customer to lower his or her voice but lets the customer vent frustration). This allows for heated discussions to become less heated, thus ameliorating disruptive behavior. The physical environment was also utilized by transit employees to their best advantage when possible. Examples of such strategies include planning ahead by keeping track of time and train stations in order to be able to eject aberrant customers, informing the police about the specific train door where the customer is going
16 to get off, waiting before opening the doors at a station so that the police can get into position, scanning the compartment for potential misbehavior. The respondents tell, for example, of creative strategies whereby they might seat a troublesome traveler in an empty compartment or turn up the heating in a compartment in order to send drunken travelers to sleep. Although other TCRP reports are dedicated to the subject of assaults on operators from the safety perspective (25), such assaults certainly qualify as difficult customer situations and deserve mention in this literature review. The Transit Advisory Committee for Safety report âPreventing and Mitigating Transit Worker Assaults in the Bus and Rail Transit Industryâ (26) looked at preventative methods to stop assaults on transit workers. The recommendations were to follow a safety management system, which is a collection of policies, processes, and behaviors that ensure a formalized, proactive approach to safety risk management. Such an approach includes educating the public about reporting assaults; installing protective barriers; installing video surveillance and automated vehicle location systems; providing psychological support for transit workers; posting passenger codes of conduct; posting police officers in high-risk transit vehicles; collecting data on location, time, place, and description of attack and attacker; and training certain workers in methods of deescalation. summary of Literature review The literature review provides an introduction to many of the challenges that transit agencies face with a minority of customers who engage in inappropriate behavior of various types and levels. Stories from newspapers and industry journals report that frontline transit agency personnel receive training in customer relations, communication skills, and how to avoid confrontations through deescalation techniques. Researchers from outside the United States have interviewed frontline transit personnel to identify the methods they use to deal with difficult customers, which reflect their own savvy and judgment of people and circumstances as much as the training they have received in dealing with difficult customers. Not all customers who present difficulties are chronically problematic; some might just be having a bad day. Other in-depth news stories examine how some customers who have a mental illness are not necessarily knowingly violating rules for passenger conduct. Transit agencies provide counsel- ing services of different kinds for bus operators, rail conductors, and customer service personnel who have been through particularly trying encounters with customers. A paper from Great Britain described a program intended to encourage customers to be less judgmental of other peopleâs actions (and thereby more accepting) because their backgrounds, sensitivities, and views of what is inap- propriate behavior might differ. A TCRP Synthesis describes how transit agencies attempt to address homelessness as it affects their systems by working with partner agencies in their communities to help direct those who are homeless to life-sustaining and life-enhancing services. This helps to minimize the use of transit facilities and vehicles for shelter or panhandling by those who are home- less. Most of the literature on the subject was found in articles in newspapers and trade magazines. These articles primarily describe the ways that transit systems try to prevent and minimize difficult customer situations by â¢ Establishing codes of conduct or local laws to provide the agency with authority to stop people from engaging in certain types of activities (loitering, littering, spitting, graffiti, threatening or disruptive behavior, playing loud music, sexual harassment, bringing bad odors, smoking outside designated areas, drug dealing, prostitution, and so forth) that make using the transit system unpleasant or unsafe for customers. These rules provide transit authorities with the authority to ban customers for varying lengths of time; â¢ Appealing to peopleâs sensitivity and awareness of their actions through humorous ad campaigns that graphically depict unacceptable behavior; â¢ Adding security or police presence at targeted transit facilities or in vehicles; and â¢ Using technology in the form of video and audio equipment, smartphones to enable passengers to report incidents in real time, automated vehicle locator systems, secret alarms, good radio communications systems, and bus operator compartment barriers to hinder assaults.