Study looks at discrimination on buses


Summary

Queensland University’s School of Economics sent 30 students of various ages and backgrounds to travel on 1,500 buses, using faulty travel cards and logged the reaction of bus drivers.

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Caucasians and Asians were treated similarly and were let on 72 to 73 per cent of the time, whereas those with dark skin only were let on the bus one in three times and Indians half of the time.

“It’s not as simple as pointing the finger at Caucasians and saying they are being nasty”, one of the authors of the study, Professor Paul Fritjers said.

“There’s clearly this dynamic going on, of the favoured in-group and the others catching up,” he said.

The students also had mixed experiences with drivers.

Sarahmiranda said, “It was just weird that she [the driver] checked my card when there were a lot of students getting on the bus [without being checked] and there were a lot of white-coloured skins.”

Professor Fritjers said the ethnicity of the driver was also taken into account.

“Asian bus drivers would heavily discriminate against the Indian and black testers, but not the [against] white testers, and the Indian bus drivers would discriminate against the black testers, but no one else, and the black bus drivers would discriminate against nobody,” he said.

Drivers were more inclined to wave passengers through if they were from their same ethnic group.

The findings did not come as a surprise to the ATSI Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda.

“These studies prove we are not just being sensitive. These things are really happening,” he said.

How the subjects dressed also contributed to the likelihood of a free ride, with testers wearing a suit showing favourable results.

“If you want to be treated as an equal, you put on a business suit. If you want to be treated better than a white guy, you put on an army suit,” Professor Fritjers said.

The Brisbane City Council said that drivers shouldn’t be letting adults on without a valid travel card.

Two thirds of all testers were given free rides.


Queensland University’s School of Economics sent 30 students of various ages and backgrounds to travel on 1,500 buses, using faulty travel cards and logged the reaction of bus drivers.

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Caucasians and Asians were treated similarly and were let on 72 to 73 per cent of the time, whereas those with dark skin only were let on the bus one in three times and Indians half of the time.

“It’s not as simple as pointing the finger at Caucasians and saying they are being nasty”, one of the authors of the study, Professor Paul Fritjers said.

“There’s clearly this dynamic going on, of the favoured in-group and the others catching up,” he said.

The students also had mixed experiences with drivers.

Sarahmiranda said, “It was just weird that she [the driver] checked my card when there were a lot of students getting on the bus [without being checked] and there were a lot of white-coloured skins.”

Professor Fritjers said the ethnicity of the driver was also taken into account.

“Asian bus drivers would heavily discriminate against the Indian and black testers, but not the [against] white testers, and the Indian bus drivers would discriminate against the black testers, but no one else, and the black bus drivers would discriminate against nobody,” he said.

Drivers were more inclined to wave passengers through if they were from their same ethnic group.

The findings did not come as a surprise to the ATSI Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda.

“These studies prove we are not just being sensitive. These things are really happening,” he said.

How the subjects dressed also contributed to the likelihood of a free ride, with testers wearing a suit showing favourable results.

“If you want to be treated as an equal, you put on a business suit. If you want to be treated better than a white guy, you put on an army suit,” Professor Fritjers said.

The Brisbane City Council said that drivers shouldn’t be letting adults on without a valid travel card.

Two thirds of all testers were given free rides.