WMC News & Features

Women pay a ‘pink tax’ on NYC transportation

Nyc Pinktax News
Women in New York City pay between $26 and $50 more than men per month to alleviate safety concerns. (James Loesch)

Women in New York City pay hundreds of dollars more per year than men toward transportation—in order to avoid harassment and meet their caretaking obligations, according to a new report by New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation. This “pink tax” is incurred when women feel unsafe on public transport or find it to be inaccessible, so much so that they opt to take cabs or use ride-hailing apps instead.

To compile the report, researchers distributed a survey online and asked men and women living in New York City about their experiences using public transport. The study of more than 600 New Yorkers found that women experience much higher rates of harassment and theft on public transport than men. While 75 percent of women respondents said they had been harassed or had items stolen from them while on public transport, only 47 percent of men responded affirmatively to the same question. The report also provides data to corroborate what so many women already know to be true: that harassment on public transport is not a one-off offense. 

“Most respondents had trouble quantifying the exact number and provided answers like, ‘Too many to count,’ ‘Not sure-it’s taken place over my entire life,” and “Countless,” the report says. 

The vast majority of people who reported experiencing harassment said they opted not to report what happened to the police (88 percent). And in some cases, they opted not to report precisely because harassment was such a quotidian part of their daily lives. “The notion of reporting everyday harassment to the authorities is bizarre to me,” said one respondent. “What would they do?”

Compared to men, more than three times as many women opted not to take public transport late at night (8 percent and 29 percent, respectively) in order to avoid harassment. This all comes at a hefty price. NYU researchers calculated that the median extra transport cost to women, paid specifically to ameliorate safety concerns, is $26-$50 a month. 

Nationally, women make up the vast majority (75 percent) of caregivers. Both the city’s subway and bus system are notoriously difficult to navigate for people who have difficulty standing for long periods, or who use wheelchairs or strollers—meaning that caregivers often opt to use other modes of travel instead of a largely inaccessible public transport system. “It is REALLY hard to get around the city with children even as an able-bodied person, particularly with multiple children,” one respondent told the researchers. 

“We estimate that the Pink Tax on women caregivers in New York City can reach up to $100 per month in addition to regular travel expenses,” say the report authors. 

Additional transport expenses are just one part of the nation’s pink tax, which is defined as “the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services,” according to website Money Matters. The tax encompasses a broad variety of extra charges, including dry cleaning, vehicle maintenance, and personal care products. According to Money Matters, the pink tax is no small matter for women across the U.S. The site says it amounts to a whopping $1,351 per year in extra costs. 

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