Misconduct on Public Transit: An Exploratory Analysis Using the Comments Formerly Known as Tweets

This project developed a simple methodology for using Twitter data to explore public perceptions about misconduct on public transit in California. The methodology allows future researchers to analyze tweets to answer questions such as: How frequent are tweets related to assault, abuse, or other misconduct on public transit? What concerns arise most frequently? What are the types of behaviors discussed? We collected and analyzed data from Twitter posts in California about various types of public transit misconduct from January 2020 to March 2023 to identify the nature and frequency of reported misconduct. Our findings reveal that harassment, uncivil behavior, and assault are the commonly reported concerns; far fewer tweets mention obscene behavior, threats, or theft. It appears that at times the victims had been targeted on the basis of their race, gender, or sexual identity, or because they were transit employees. The tweets indicate that both genders are victimized, though women were targeted more often than men (57.5% vs. 42.5%). As for the alleged perpetrators of transit misconduct, more than three-quarters were male (78%). Transit agencies and researchers can use the results of these analyses to strategically improve safety measures for the benefit of passengers and transit operators. 

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Egbe-Etu Etu
PI Contact Information: 


San Jose State University

November 2023
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

This research project will create an online decision-support tool for analyzing public concern about transit safety through tweets, allowing transit professionals to monitor trends and identify opportunities to improve passenger safety. Advantages of using Twitter data are that it provides free real-time data on passenger/commuter experiences so that agencies can regularly assess passenger experience and monitor long-term trends.

Project Number: 



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SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu