Critics Claim MTA’s Survey, Used to Justify More Police, Overplayed Riders’ Fears


It’s been almost a month for the reason that NYPD’s transit chief accused the MTA of “worry mongering” over crime within the subways, in a showdown that finally led to 250 extra police being added to subway patrols. However even earlier than that, the MTA was pointing to its buyer survey, which exhibits 87% of 33,000 present and former subway riders say security is a “very or extraordinarily essential issue” in deciding in the event that they’ll trip transit once more.

The MTA used that survey to justify the necessity for extra policing. However since then ridership has steadily elevated. And a better take a look at the demographics, in addition to one other survey taken across the identical time, present the MTA might have been overplaying the general public’s worry issue.

Gothamist noticed a demographic breakdown of the response to the survey, which the MTA has not posted publicly. It exhibits half of the respondents are white. Whereas that roughly matches the general subway ridership in the intervening time, it’s additionally a bunch that’s least more likely to be focused by police for minor infractions, like fare evasion. Current studies present 92% of individuals arrested for fare evasion have been Black and Hispanic, teams that don’t at all times really feel safer seeing extra law enforcement officials.

“It doesn’t take a totally certified police officer to provide folks a way of safety,” stated David Jones, an MTA board member and president and CEO of the Group Service Society. “Uniformed personnel on platforms and in entrance of gates are simply as efficient.”

The Regional Plan Affiliation (RPA) not too long ago carried out its personal survey of commuters throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in March and got here away with very completely different outcomes. Whereas it solely surveyed 804 adults, it discovered simply 19% of its respondents have been involved about crime within the subways. The primary issue holding commuters again from driving was an ongoing worry of COVID-19, adopted by a desire for driving. 

The RPA survey discovered 26% of New York Metropolis residents have been involved about crime, and 1 / 4 of them have been folks of coloration. Simply 14% of the general respondents have been white, a a lot smaller portion than these within the MTA’s survey, though lots of the RPA respondents stay on Lengthy Island, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

Danny Pearlstein, coverage and communications director with Riders Alliance, known as the RPA’s survey scientific, however stated the MTA’s survey was “lengthy and complicated.” He questioned whether or not it precisely captures the sensation of present and former commuters.

“Greater than two million folks take the practice each day, overwhelmingly with out incident,” Pearlstein wrote in a press release. “The governor owes actual riders quick, frequent, dependable, and reasonably priced public transit service. Discouraging folks from driving the New York subway does town an immense disservice and it places riders in hurt’s means.“

The MTA has employed greater than 200 non-public safety guards to patrol the subways, and the NYPD agreed so as to add unarmed volunteer officers to patrol as properly. Although Mayor Invoice de Blasio says the police presence “makes up the most important NYPD Transit Power in 25 years,” the company nonetheless desires extra officers.

“I need once you’re pulling right into a station, I need folks to really feel a presence,” Interim New York Metropolis Transit President Sarah Feinberg stated final week. “I need folks to know if they do not see a police officer on that platform they’re more likely to see one on the subsequent station they’re more likely to see one strolling onto their practice.” 

“How do you just remember to’re bringing riders again, that you just’re bringing people who find themselves sitting on the sidelines, haven’t come again to the system but, how do you deliver them again to the system?” she requested. “Convey them again with giving them confidence on being secure from COVID publicity and confidence on crime and harassment, that’s what our buyer survey appears to recommend.”

The MTA has been making an attempt to lure riders again as 24-hour service has resumed, whereas on the identical time prodding town so as to add extra police to patrol stations in an effort to make riders really feel secure, and deter some crimes earlier than they happen. The MTA has stated the addition of 250 law enforcement officials isn’t sufficient. 

Nonetheless, riders seem like voting with their toes at the same time as a rash of random and surprising incidents within the subways continues. There have been 5 days in a row final week when ridership topped 2 million, a constant and up to date excessive for the subways. 

The MTA board and prime management meet Wednesday, Might twenty sixth, when they are going to have an opportunity to debate policing within the subways with NYPD Transit Chief Kathleen O’Reilly for the primary time since she accused the company of worry mongering.