NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The head of the transit authority is making a plea to the mayor and the NYPD for more cops.
She says safety concerns are keeping people from coming back to the subways, with a new MTA survey finding 72% of riders are concerned about crime and harassment.READ MORE: ‘Cafe Maddy Cab’ Helps Pay Cab Fare For Asian People Fearful Of Taking The Subway
A whopping 87% of lapsed riders say subway safety is the biggest factor in whether they’ll return to mass transit, and those decisions can make or break the city’s comeback from the pandemic.
“I’m so afraid. We used to get on the bus, get on the subway, go to the city and shop and now I think about it,” one person said.
“I don’t want to take the train and go to Manhattan,” another person said.
The rise in hate crimes and reports of attacks have clearly contributed to fear of taking mass transit.
One incident caught on a subway station camera on April 6 shows a man coming up behind a rider and punching him in the head to steal a wallet and a cell phone.
A new MTA survey found people who ride the subway feel less safe than they did six months ago.
Just 26% were satisfied with safety, a 16.4% drop from September, and 72% say they are “very concerned” about crime and harassment.
The fears are even greater among those who are not currently using mass transit.
Seven in ten so-called “lapsed” riders say crime is “extremely important” in their decision to take mass transit again.READ MORE: Police: 22-Year-Old Woman Punched In Face During Argument On Brooklyn Subway
“We are in a really important moment. Over the next three to six months, I think those folks who have been staying home are going to make the decision about whether they’re coming back, and if we can’t get them back into the system right now, we’re going to lose them for a long time,” MTA Transit Acting President Sarah Feinberg told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
Feinberg says Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD need to put more cops on the trains because the city’s economic recovery depends on it.
“New York cannot come back unless the transit system comes back, and the transit system can’t come back unless riders come back,” she said.
In recent months, the NYPD has assigned 600 more cops to the transit system, but transit officials say it’s just not enough.
The transit union pointed out that in the last six months, 1,088 transit workers have been assaulted, spit at or menaced.
“We don’t need police at the turnstiles. We need them on the platforms, trains and on buses,” said Tony Utano, president of Transit Union Local 100.
Riders told CBS2 they still have plenty of fears.
“There’s fewer riders and people aren’t taking precautions and there’s a lot more homeless on the subway, a lot more mentally ill,” one rider said.
“With COVID and with all the attacks, I’m very worried,” another rider said.
“No, I do not feel safe,” another rider said.MORE NEWS: Police: Suspect Punches 61-Year-Old Man In Face On Brooklyn Subway Platform
The plea for more cops fell on deaf ears. A spokesman for the mayor insists subway crime is at historic lows, saying, “The MTA should be encouraging people to ride the subways, not scaring them off.”