Majority of New Yorkers Say Subway Unsafe at Night; Quarter Worry About Safety During the Day: Poll

Majority of New Yorkers Say Subway Unsafe at Night; Quarter Worry About Safety During the Day: Poll
A subway train arrives in a station in New York on May 17, 2021. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Petr Svab

More than half of New York residents feel unsafe riding the city’s subway alone at night, while 1 in 4 feel that way during daytime hours, according to a survey.

The survey was conducted in January and February among 1,000 adult New York residents by Opinium, a consumer and political research outfit.

The numbers are even higher for women and Asian Americans, two-thirds of whom feel unsafe at night and about a third of whom feel unsafe during the day. Residents expressed more worry about waiting for a train on the platform than riding the train itself.

“New York is supposed to be the city that never sleeps—but it’s clear that for many of its residents, even trying to get around the city in daylight hours can feel uncomfortable and unsafe—not to mention at night,” company spokesperson Naomi Horn said in an April 11 statement.

The survey follows a series of high-profile crimes on the subway in recent years in which people have been assaulted or even pushed onto the tracks. Victims have disproportionately been women and Asian Americans. Perpetrators have disproportionately been black men.

Yet the level of crime in the subway system, in general, hasn’t changed much over the past decade and is even slightly down so far this year compared to last year, according to New York City Police Department data.

What has increased dramatically, however, is crime in the city more broadly. Felony assaults, in particular, have been on the rise for years and, so far this year, have been at their highest since 1998. Also up are petty thefts, such as shoplifting, misdemeanor assaults, and car theft. While homicides have somewhat declined over the past two years, they’re still higher than in 2019, following a dramatic rise in 2020 and 2021.

New Yorkers still perceive that the city streets are safer than the subway, according to the survey. A total of 68 percent said they felt safe walking down the street alone during the day compared to 58 percent feeling safe riding the subway alone. At night, 59 percent felt unsafe riding the subway alone, but only 50 percent felt unsafe walking alone.

The majority of residents still rely on the subway for transportation. More than 70 percent said they ride at least once a month, and 54 percent ride weekly. By contrast, only 17 percent said they take a cab at least once a week, and 16 percent said they use ridesharing apps such as Lyft or Uber at least weekly.

Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
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