Sex Crimes on Public Transit: Underreported?

Photo by Alfredo Mendez

Sex crimes on public transportation might be “vastly underreported,” according to a report from the Bay Citizen Saturday.

BART, the San Francisco Municipal Railway and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit together had 370 million riders last year on buses, trains and trolleys that cover San Francisco, the East Bay and beyond. The police documented 95 sex crimes on those three public transit systems, including 35 cases of indecent exposure, often masturbation; 25 cases of sexual battery, which includes groping; one rape; and other unwanted lewd behavior. Forty arrests were made.

Those numbers are surprisingly low given the ridership, said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean at the University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, who has studied sex crimes on public transit. The actual number of sex crimes on public transit is most likely much higher, she said.

Twice now I have been on the 49-Van Ness when a male passenger boards the bus, sits very close to me, and “falls asleep” with his arm on my hip bone. At first you want to think it’s just an accident, then it becomes totally infuriating and frustrating.

If you’re a regular reader of Muni Diaries, you know that incidents like this are not isolated. In 2009, a reader wrote us about a man on the N-Judah whom she called the “Muni humper.” A commenter then submitted a photo of the suspect. The SFPD contacted us and initiated an investigation, which later led to the arrest of the so-called Muni humper. (see our full story).

But the creeps haven’t learned any lessons from the humper. Last year, reader Mel submitted a disturbing report of a man who was harassing young women on the T-Third (another reader submitted a police report based on the post).

Two months later reader Stella told us about a man on the 8X who was trying to cop a feel. “I’ve talked to people about this happening and they tell me not to start anything with the guy for my own safety in case he has a weapon or might follow me home. This infuriates me that I can’t do anything about it,” she told us in her story, Violated on the 8X.

Have you experienced sexual harassment on Muni or BART, and would you call out the perpetrator on the spot?


  • Seems like these types of crimes are under-reported in general, not just on public transit.

    • T


      If we ever witness/experience a crime like this, can we submit a story or report it here? Some people may not be able to call the police or notify the authorities immediately after the incident for whatever reason. Sexual harrassment is disgusting and I hope more creeps are brought to justice like the humper guy through Muni Diaries.

      • eugenia

        T – of course you can submit a story here at Muni Diaries just like other readers did. Of course we’d encourage you to file a police report as well but we welcome stories of all stripes.

  • I try to avoid the 14 because feminism hasn’t happened yet on the back of that bus. Once a drunk guy started rubbing my outer thigh, and I looked at him in disgusted, aghast disbelief, then yelled at him to stop, then moved. Another time a guy was flirting with me and I wouldn’t flirt back and he said, “bitch I’m going to kill you.” I feel like I’m getting raped by MUNI all the time. So I don’t think of them as people I’d turn to if I was experiencing/had experienced a sexual assault.

  • We hear that. But do we report these things to the police, even if the people around us could care less?

  • I’d rather not report things to the police. Police presence is already so intense in the rapidly gentrifying parts of the city. I’m honestly not sure what kind of response I would advocate.

  • John Walker

    There is this drunk asian male who frequents the 8X who always gets one at or near the cow palace. He has been know to grope underage girls. Several people have seen him fondling school girls and putting his hands dowen their shirts. Most people on the 8X are to scared to stop or report him.

    • Oh god, that’s horrible, I wouldn’t stand around for that. makes me ill.

      For those of you without self defense training, it is legal in San Francisco to carry a taser on you, concealed or visible. I recommend the taser C2, which also doubles as a stun gun, and causes the attacker to have complete lose of muscle control. If you contact them, they will set you up with a free class, as they did for my wife.

    • Jacky

      Oh wow. You must be talking about Orlando, the drunk guy who’s Filipino I think, and he always hangs out around Cow palace, and he rides the 8x way too much. One time he was smoking on the bus, then somebody told him to stop, and then he proceeded to take out his beer, and he spilled some of it on the floor purposely, and started drinking it.

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