Women’s Transit to hold forum today

After over 40 years of operation, Women’s Transit staff paused to reassess the current service for potential changes to implement.

As part of the reassessment, the staff will host the Women’s Transit Forum on Feb. 10 at 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. in CUB 406 to gather student input on unmet transportation needs.

“Since student fees help make Women’s Transit possible,” Women’s Transit Coordinator Sarah Smith said, “we want to make sure that we are serving students and meeting our goals to the best of our abilities. Student input will play a role in deciding the future of the program and possible changes, so we encourage anyone invested in Women’s Transit to join us and offer their voice.”

Over the years, the program has adapted in response to student concerns and feedback, Smith said. For instance, the Transit used to run only a few nights a week before an increased demand pushed the program to expand services to seven nights per week, she explained.

Women’s Transit provided 3,338 rides, or an average of about 27 rides per night, in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Women’s Transit is a safety service for WSU students and the Pullman community, offering “free rides within Pullman city limits to anyone who feels uncomfortable walking alone at night,” according to its website. Student leaders and volunteers run the service.

“Of course, all student feedback has to be filtered through the question of whether changes would help us meet our goals as a sexual assault prevention program,” Smith said.

The focus of the forum discussion will be accessibility to safe transportation. The goal is to identify situations where students needed safe transportation but were unable to find or afford it, Smith said.

Women’s Transit also aims to identify the student needs it fulfills or can potentially fulfill, that Pullman Transit, cabs and other similar services do not.

Despite public perception, the majority of sexual assaults in college towns happen inside, not in a dark alleyway, Smith said.

Women’s Transit is a part of the Women’s Resource Center, which provides resources to prevent sexual assault alongside the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Violence Prevention Center and Health and Wellness Services; groups which have implemented prevention programs like Green Dot.

“We also want to examine whether (Women’s) Transit is helping people get out of situations in which they are at risk for sexual assault,” Smith explained. “The more student stories we can gather, the better. We will provide surveys, so students can submit feedback confidentially if they wish.”

To access the survey online, students can visit the Women’s Transit Facebook page or website. Students can also follow the Facebook page to stay informed on the status of the program and opportunities to help. Women’s Transit also sends out updates through its website and WSU Announcements.