Metro Vancouver Transit Police have launched a new awareness campaign in the midst of a troubling spike in sexual assaults and harassment on public transit.

Const. Anne Drennan said 49 sexual offences have already been reported to Transit Police this year, a 23 per cent increase over the same period in 2013.

The force is responding with new tools for passengers to report concerns, including a mobile app and the text number 87-77-77.

“If someone is making you uncomfortable by their actions or words, texting your location and suspect description allows us to send police officers to investigate,” Drennan said.

The text service is designed for non-emergencies only, and passengers are still advised to call 911 for serious incidents.

Transit Police are also taking part in the week-long international Project Global Guardian campaign, joining transit police forces in Boston, Washington DC, and London.

The campaign, which began Monday, hopes to encourage more victims to come forward instead of brushing off assaults and harassment.

On Monday, police held a conference at Surrey’s Newton bus loop, where Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women Support Services described the threats women can face in public.

“We are living in a rape culture,” MacDougall said. “We’re living in a culture of rape where those of us, as females, as women, are navigating a world where we are afraid of sexual violence on a regular daily basis.”

Transit passengers will also soon be able to report concerns on the Transit Police mobile app, which will also feature crime maps and a Most Wanted list.

The app is currently in beta testing.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Lisa Rossington