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Will sexual harassment incidents on LA's public transit hurt the system as it tries to expand?

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Far too many creeps

As Metro prepares to ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund decades of transportation projects countywide, the issue of sexual harassment on transit looms as a potential "stumbling block, "says the Los Angeles Times.

How often are people being gross and creepy? According to the Times:

Recent survey data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suggests nearly one in five riders — 19% — has experienced some form of harassment this year. Seven percent have been fondled or groped, and 8% have been subject to indecent exposure.

That 19 percent metric is down from 22 percent last spring—theoretically a good thing (except that number should be ZERO). But that 19 percent figure doesn’t necessarily represent the actual occurrence of sexual harassment on Metro, an official with a sexual harassment prevention nonprofit tells the Times.

The number is a good deal lower than it is on transit in other major cities, suggesting that, "many L.A. transit riders either don't understand what sexual harassment looks like or have become accustomed to it..."

Steps Metro’s taken to combat sexual harassment on its buses and trains so far ask riders to call in such behavior. A phone number is available for riders to report harassment but since phone service isn’t available for all carriers in all subway tunnels yet, many riders would have to wait to exit the train and station before they could call and report someone or something inappropriate.

Metro also has an app called Transit Watch that helps people "call sheriff's deputies, confidentially report harassment and snap photos of an incident," but unfortunately 4 in 10 Metro riders do not have smartphones.

For the full story, hop over to the Los Angeles Times.