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Is The NYC Subway System, “Safe?”

August 10th 2021

Is the NYC subway system safe?

Is it safe to ride on the NYC subway train? And I would answer both, “yes,” and, “no,” in reference to that question... because truthfully… it’s more un-comfortable than anything. For example, talking to strangers on the train is optional but most conversations spiral into an awkward silence… almost like a social black-hole of sorts. Then there’s also the occasional random act of violence, both on the train and in the tunnel.

In fact, last May The NY Times reported that there were, “1.63 felonies (which includes murders, rapes and assaults) for every 1 million riders… during the Spring of 2021. However, that number was up from the 1.48 felonies / per million riders in 2020 and significantly higher than the 1.0 felonies / per million riders in the first quarter of 2019, according to an M.T.A. analysis.” (*NY Times report.)

But do those crime statistics make the train any more, “un-safe,” than driving a motor vehicle? And this topic is particularly troubling to me during a time when stress is increasing nation-wide and so many Americans are using prescription medication, which is currently not examined during routine traffic stops. Whereby, I’d also like to note… that according to Wikipedia, ”the US ranks 41 out of 52 high-income nations based on this year’s road traffic deaths,” fatalities that can be entirely attributed to motor vehicles and deaths that can almost entirely be eliminated by subways.

But with that being said… is the NYC subway system, “safe?”

And in that light… I would say that, “NYC’s subway system is safe,” in the sense that I’ve never personally had an incident over these past 5 years. However, I will also say… that even 1 violent incident (*or a de-railed train) could change my opinion on this matter but in contrast to driving an automobile, I currently find that the NYC subway system is both more efficient and safer than driving.

Nevertheless, while riding on the train these past 5 years… I’ve personally witnessed; domestic violence, screaming hobo’s, a dead body (probably overdosed on booze), methamphetamine use, scary homeless people and public urination… all down in the subway tunnel. Yet still, knock on wood, I’ve never been personally victimized. Furthermore, over the last 5 years I’ve only paid a fraction of the cost(s) associated with owning a motor vehicle and I’ve left a minimal carbon footprint… all because of the NYC subway system.

But not everyone has been as, “fortunate,” as I have riding the train. In fact, this Spring… a Mr. Rivas, 37, was stabbed by a gang in Lower Manhattan while riding on the train… and he was stabbed after simply inquiring why the people in question were being, “so loud?” And this type of violent crime, typically directed towards the elderly… or those who cannot defend themselves from violence or theft, unfortunately occurs consistently in New York… almost making the subway trains unfit for women and children entirely.

So is the subway system un-safe? Or is this an issue of politics and mis-management?

MISMANAGEMENT! Where I would say that it’s an issue of politics and mis-management, whereby, police should be stationed at every train-stop and currently they are not aboard 99% of the trains. Furthermore, there aren’t enough cameras in the tunnels and a lot of things go undetected down there, as well. And while I’m not advocating that, “big brother,” turns our city into London… where in the U.K. the entire city is under surveillance… I do believe that with random stabbing’s occurring in the subway this Spring and a growing need to decrease fossil fuels and eliminate smog from the air, I think that now is a good time to BOLSTER subway security, in an effort to positively impact public opinion towards the subway itself.

So, in conclusion and with those issues in mind, I would advise that the NYC Transit Authority looks to provide the public with more police, ideally stationed directly inside of the subway trains/tunnels themselves, along with an increase in video surveillance / video monitoring systems down in the tunnel. Also, I would suggest that the city explores the creation of a, “cleaning train,” which could then be used to clean the tracks from soot and dust on a regular basis. Then also, on top of those requests I suggest that some of the steel platforms, particularly those surrounding Yankee stadium… be reinforced because they currently, “wobble,” from over-use.

But to conclude, it’s astonishing to me that no one ever falls onto the tracks. Hundreds of people, sometimes thousands… line up for the train every morning, night and afternoon, huddled together, waiting impatiently by their stops and yet, I have not once seen or heard of anyone being pushed onto the tracks… or a fight leading to someone getting pushed in front of a train or thrown onto the electrically charged tracks. Which is where I find it also worth noting… that it’s a huge safety hazard to have an electrically charged track… only feet away from the public, with no barrier.

-William Larsen, founder.