- In the face of high-profile murders on the New York City subway system — adding to concerns that already deter some riders from using these trains — transit advocacy organization Riders Alliance held a rally on Sunday in Brooklyn to unveil its plan for public safety.
- The plan centers on increasing train frequency, directing law enforcement to focus on violence and harassment instead of smaller crimes such as fare evasion, and funding more shelter beds and permanent supportive housing.
- In addition to urging the state and city to run trains and buses at least every six minutes, seven days a week, the Riders Alliance plan also calls for officials to staff subway stations with unarmed ambassadors; improve emergency evacuation procedures for all riders, particularly those with disabilities; make walking to transit safer; and expand the transit system’s low-income transit fare discount program.
Recent transit crimes have put pressure on New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to improve security.
New York City residents have been shocked by the death of Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed in front of a subway train in January; a spate of eight attacks on the subway system over one weekend in February; a mass shooting on a subway train in April; and another shooting on a train last month that killed Daniel Enriquez.
“Millions of New Yorkers ride the subway every day, nearly all without incident,” said Riders Alliance Policy and Communications Director Danny Pearlstein in a press release. “But the subway must be safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone.”
Earlier this year, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subways, found over 350 people living inside subway tunnels and stations. More than 1,300 people experiencing homelessness have been taken from the subway system to shelters since February, the New York Daily News reported from city officials, under the city’s subway safety plan.
“No one wants to sleep in transit facilities or the subways, but many homeless New Yorkers do so because they feel they have no safe alternatives,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless in a Riders Alliance press release emailed to Smart Cities Dive.
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The Riders Alliance plan also asks the state to pass eviction protection legislation and make it easier to convert hotels and offices into housing. It calls for the city to open at least 3,000 new single-occupancy rooms and stabilization beds and to set aside 6,000 affordable apartments and 6,000 apartments for extremely low-income households per year.
The plan also asks police officers not to evict unhoused New Yorkers from the subway or issue tickets for being homeless.
“There’s only so much law enforcement can do,” Pearlstein said at the rally. “We’re here today to look at the root causes of issues like the housing crisis underground.”