NEW YORK (PIX11) — The MTA just marked a pandemic milestone for subway ridership, tracking over 2 million swipes in a day—the highest since March 2020. But a new survey reveals it has some work to do easing New Yorkers’ fears over safety underground.
While ridership is slowly growing, subway swipes are still down about 65% since before COVID. According to the MTA, over 33,000 people responded to their online survey, conducted between March 15 and March 28.
About 36% of people who relied on the subway before the pandemic said crime and harassment are keeping them away, according to the survey.
The majority of subway riders, or 72%, said they were “very concerned” with crime and harassment, outweighing the 69% noting concerns about mask-wearing, the 64% worried about COVID and health safety and the 60% concerned with social distancing.
According to the MTA, seven in 10 customers not currently using transit think crime and harassment are extremely important, more than any other factor. Combined with the 17% who said crime was “very important,” it seems 87% of former riders consider crime a factor that will influence their decision to use transit in the future, the MTA said.
“Our customer survey data could not be more clear: concerns over safety are top of mind for current riders, and for those looking to return to transit,” the MTA’s Chief Communications Officer Abbey Collins said in a statement.
The survey results come after several high-profile subway beatings, stabbings, and shoving incidents in recent months. The NYPD has added an additional 600 officers into the subway system, while the MTA has beefed up its own security and cameras. However, according to the survey, only 45% of riders said they noticed the upped police presence.
Additionally, riders’ satisfaction with crime and harassment levels on trains decreased by 16.4% and dropped by 8.2% over crime and harassment in subway stations. “An overwhelming majority of 76% of customers say seeing a uniformed presence in the system makes them feel safer,” said Collins.
Meanwhile, the MTA is waiting on federal guidance on how to proceed with cleaning protocols, while also trying to restore 24-hour subway service. “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 – and we are throwing every resource at continually tackling these issues to keep breaking ridership milestones day after day as New York reopens,” Collins’ statement concluded.
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