Fear of crime and harassment in New York City subways is keeping many New Yorkers out of the system even as COVID-19 restrictions start to loosen, according to a survey released Monday by the MTA.
Roughly 36% of straphangers who relied on the subway before the pandemic said they “are not using transit because of crime and harassment,” said the survey, which drew on answers from roughly 33,000 riders between March 15 to March 28.
Subway turnstiles clocked 2 million trips on Thursday for the first time since March 16, 2020, when schools, restaurants and other entertainment venues across the five boroughs began to close as the city became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ridership remains about 65% lower than the 5.6 million subway trips recorded each day before the pandemic as unemployment in the city remains high and most offices remain closed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new survey says 73% of riders who haven’t returned are “very concerned about crime and harassment” on transit, while 76% also cited “health safety” on the subway as a major fear.
“We know that if our riders feel safe from crime and safe from COVID, they will come back to transit and back to the city,” said MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins. “We are throwing every resource at continually tackling these issues to keep breaking ridership milestones day after day as New York reopens.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio took a shot at the MTA Tuesday, claiming the agency is “discouraging” ridership after its release of a survey highlighting commuter safety concerns.
Hizzoner vented his frustration with the agency during a subway ride with reporters in Upper Manhattan, insisting the mode of transportation is safe, citing the recent addition of 644 cops to its patrols.
“Look, the MTA should be telling people it’s right to come back, not discouraging them. Because regular everyday New Yorkers know that the subways are safe,” de Blasio said.
“I’d urge the MTA to work with us — not put down their own subways, but actually promote their own subways,” he railed.
According to a March survey from the transit agency, 72 percent of over 25,000 active subway and bus riders said they were “very concerned” over crime and harassment during the commute.
The survey showed just 26 percent were “satisfied” with “safety from crime and harassment on trains” — a 15.1 percent dip from September.
Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg used survey’s findings to reiterate her call for a beefed up NYPD presence in the transit system.
But de Blasio on Tuesday argued there are already enough cops patrolling the subways.
“There’s no question,” the mayor responded when asked if 644 additional officers is enough. “It’s a huge show of force.”
Rather than expose its perceived shortfalls, de Blasio said the MTA should celebrate its successes.
“They need to talk about what’s working — because the subways are cleaner than they’ve ever been. That’s great! That’s a good thing,” he said.
Sage advice from The Blaz again, it’s better to reinforce optics than to acknowledge problems and try to fix them. Just like with his continuing demented response to the pandemic, he has no concern for the safety of his constituents.