Thursday, April 25, 2024

NYC’S Subways Aren’t Safe


Talking Transportation

By Jim Cameron
Author: “Off The Record: Confessions of a Media Consultant

It’s not safe to ride the subways in New York City.

Not that the subways aren’t operated safely, it’s just that the people riding them are victimizing each other as well as MTA personnel.  Hardly a day passes without another report of incidents like these:

  • A man is slashed with a box cutter by an assailant spewing anti-LGBTQ remarks, who then runs off.
  • In another incident a 64 year old postal worker is kicked down off the platform, falling onto the tracks.  He was rescued by bystanders before the subway train entered the station.  NYPD has surveillance video but they are still looking for the assailant.
  • An MTA conductor, leaning out of his cab, is slashed in his head and neck requiring 34 stitches.  Again, no arrest.

In January subway crime was up 45%.  The NYPD then sent an additional 1000 cops into the subway. Last week NY Governor Hochul called out a thousand members of the National Guard and instituted random bag checks of passengers entering the system, looking for weapons.  Will that result in weapons arrests or just send the bad guys to another station not staffed with cops?  What’s next… metal detectors?

This is unsustainable and very expensive, especially at a time when the MTA estimates they lost a half-billion dollars due to fare evasion last year, with 12% of all riders skipping the turnstiles.

Clearly, there are too many guns and knives being carried by people in NYC.  Though undoubtedly discriminatory, I wonder if a return to former Mayor Bloomberg’s old policy of “stop and frisk” might not reduce this arms race.

Mind you, these aren’t just one-off crimes.  Thirty-eight people who were arrested in the subways for assault last year were responsible for 1100 additional crimes in the city, according to Mayor Adams.

The homeless woman who was seen on video attacking a cello player with a metal bottle was arrested in mid-February and set free without bail.  Days later she was arrested again, this time for shoplifting a $235 baseball cap.  This time her bail was $500 (though prosecutors had sought $10,000), but that was enough to keep her in jail… for now.

So the issue is more than just attacks:  it’s about our judicial system which spits people back onto the streets without bail, even when they commit violence.

This lawlessness in New York City is out of control and literal armies of cops and camo-dressed Guardsmen aren’t much of a deterrent.  Even without guns or knives, the crazy (sorry… “mentally unstable”) people roaming the streets and subways are making everyone feel nervous.

What does this mean for Connecticut commuters?  They’re probably safe on Metro-North but when they get to Grand Central they’re understandably reluctant to take the subway to their office.

It’s just another reason for commuters to persuade their bosses they’re better off working from home, further reducing fare revenue for the cash-strapped Metro-North division of the MTA.

Jim Cameron is founder of the Commuter Action Group and advocates for Connecticut rail riders. His weekly column “Talking Transportation” is archived here.  You can contact Jim at”


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