Metro launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ sexual harassment hotline

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Metro riders who experience sexual harassment on buses and trains will now be able to call and report the incidents to trained operators, via a 24-hour hotline set up by Metro, reports The Source.

The hotline, a one-year pilot program, will be open seven days a week and staffed by volunteer counselors from Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles County-based nonprofit that also operates a hotline for victims of domestic abuse and rape.

Riders who are harassment may call the hotline, 844-Off-Limits (633-5464), to be connected to a counselor “who [is] trained to address issues related to sexual harassment on a transit system,” says The Source. (Phone service is currently available in subway tunnels between Union Station and Seventh/Metro for most major carriers.)

“No other transit agency in the world has a 24/7 sexual harassment victim hotline,” Metro CEO Phillip Washington told The Source. “The establishment of this pilot program exemplifies Metro’s commitment to protecting our customers from this kind of abuse.”

Over the last couple years, Metro’s consistently tried to ramp up its anti-sexual harassment efforts, perhaps in part due to sobering results from Metro rider surveys, which recently found that about one in five riders (19 percent) had experienced some form of harassment on Metro.

Nineteen percent might sound like a lot—zero riders should have to put up with creepy interactions on buses and trains—but apparently in many other major cities, that rate is much higher. That discrepancy has caused some to suggest that people aren’t reporting all the incidents of harassment that occur on Metro, perhaps because they either don’t fully understand what sexual harassment is, or because they’ve come to accept it as normal.

In April 2015, Metro kicked off a campaign called “It’s Off Limits,” which placed anti-harassment posters in thousands of buses and hundreds of train cars. According to The Source, the rate of sexual harassment reported in rider surveys has dropped from 22 percent to 15 percent since the campaign began.

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