The subway is one of the most iconic things about New York City. Most of the United States is vastly underserved by their local public transportation, so there is something special about being able to hop in, grab a strap, and get to where you need to be. Commuting to your job on the subway takes a decent chunk of the magic out of it, but even more than that is the ever-present worry that you might be the victim of a crime.
To say nothing of the viral infections that could be caused by riding the cramped and sometimes clean New York subway lines, they are not very safe. Now, more than ever, the subway needs an overhaul in administration, funding, and community support.
To understand safety on the New York subways, the current situation needs to be looked at closely. Because of the CoViD-19 pandemic, NYC subway ridership is a low point. Unemployment is high, and people are socially distancing or working from home, so the subway is less necessary or outright avoided lately.
The fewer riders would make most people think it sounds nicer, but the reality is that with fewer witnesses and challengers, crime on the subway is rocketing. In an MTA poll in late 2020, only 42% of NYC subway riders said they felt safe. The year before, 2019, 67% of riders felt safe. This is not a perception shift; the subways have become much more dangerous lately.
Right now, advocates for the rights of homeless people are arguing with New York State that the homeless have a right to live on the subway. NYC has yet to fully address its homeless population and find a suitable solution that provides them with housing and opportunities to recover. Especially in cold months, homeless people head to the subway, where a cheap admission ticket gets them shelter from the elements.
The subway is also a familiar spot for people asking for help or money and performers who do acts on the moving subway to a captive audience. These people are not all homeless, but they do want what you have.
Crimes on the subway
Few people are busier than a New York personal injury lawyer. Crime runs rampant in the city, and the subway is a convenient place for criminals are people with mental illnesses to gather and be around people who cannot walk away from them.
Assault, felony assault, and harassment are the three most common crimes on transit, according to an official report by NYC administrators. Robberies and sex crimes were right up there with the rest of the common ones. There were 3,411 crimes reported that fell under the jurisdiction of the transit authority in 2020. It is important to note that serious crimes would get put under the jurisdiction of a specialized precinct department, so murders do not show here.
This data shows that most of the time, it is not a robbery, but some kind of physical or verbal altercation that escalates. Tensions can get high on busy public transportation, and anyone could be the person to snap and start a fight.
How to stay safe
Safety conditions on the subway can be up to luck. Whether you will encounter a dangerous person or not depends more on your commute than your actions. However, there are some tips that are recommended for people riding the subway beyond common sense self-defenses.
You should never take out expensive possessions or cash on the subway. Jewelry, smartphones, and thick wallets all make you a clear target for anyone with impure intentions. It is important to use a mix of situational awareness while also ignoring others on the subway. Do not look confrontational, but you also should not show weakness. Criminals and opportunists can spot an easy mark a mile away.
Stay wary about strangers, especially people acting strangely or unpredictably. Trust your gut. If you think someone is a threat, they probably are. It is always better to leave the subway and get on the next one if you are trapped with an intimidating or chaotic person. If you have been drinking, try to keep it together; drunk people are common prey for attackers and thieves.
About Irma Dengler
With a BA in communications and paralegal experience, Irma Dengler decided to combine her skills. In the past, when she was involved in proceedings of her own, she witnessed firsthand the weight of legal language.
A convoluted terminology can easily disarm the average American. Therefore, she set off to empower her readers by making the law more accessible to them.
Although she has covered all areas of civil and criminal law, insurance-related issues, and her area of specialty are personal injury cases.