In the city of Kalmar, Sweden, many women avoided taking the bus at night since they felt unsafe walking home from the bus stop. Night stops – the possibility to get off the bus closer to home – have encouraged more people to use public transport.
In a study on passenger safety in Kalmar’s public transport system, the city found that some passengers avoided taking the bus in the evening to some parts of the city. Women in particular chose not to take the bus, since they often felt unsafe walking home from the bus stop.
This finding contradicted the city’s goal of having more people choose public transport. Together with the operator of the buses, the city solved the problem by introducing so-called night stops.
Night stops mean that passengers travelling alone can request the bus driver to stop between two regular bus stops, for example somewhere closer to home or somewhere that feels more safe.
The driver then lets the passenger off through the front doors while keeping the rear doors closed so that nobody else can exit the bus. This way, the passenger can be certain than nobody is following him or her on the walk home from the bus. Passengers travelling alone are offered night stops across the municipality starting at 9 pm every evening of the week.
Promotion in Cinemas
The night stops were advertised on the buses, but the city also promoted it in cinemas in connection with showings of the film Sex and the City.
‘This was a way to make especially girls and women aware of the night stops,’ says Ann-Sofie Lagercrantz, the city of Kalmar’s head of development for gender equality.
‘This was a way to make especially girls and women aware of the night stops.’
Kalmar imported the idea of night stops to increase women’s safety from Toronto, Canada, where they are called request stops.
It wasn’t very hard to introduce night stops. In the beginning, some bus drivers were hesitant as they felt that the risk of delays and accidents could increase. However, their concerns turned out to be unfounded. In the end, a small change yielded a substantial return.
Initially, the new service was introduced only in certain areas, and after one year the effects were assessed via the local police’s so-called safety survey, which the City of Kalmar orders every three years.
A Successful Initiative
‘Several other municipalities have shown an interest in Kalmar’s night stops, not least the city of Borås, which has already decided to follow suit.’
The initiative turned out to be successful. In the pilot areas, significantly fewer individuals had avoided taking the bus at night. The night stops have now been introduced permanently across the entire municipality and have helped the city achieve an important goal: increased use of public transport. And the concept is spreading. Several other municipalities have shown an interest in Kalmar’s night stops, not least the city of Borås, which has already decided to follow suit.