By Jessica Easthope
As New York attempts to recover from COVID-19, riders say the subway system is still sick.
“It’s been disturbing, I’ve seen in the past week several people breaking the law, people lighting things on fire,” said commuter, Dustin Coffey.
One commuter says she’s afraid.
“People pushing people, people being nervous and scared, I never was nervous before,” said Rossie Fernandez.
Mayor Eric Adams was elected, vowing to make New York safer. Now he and Governor Kathy Hochul are working their way up, starting with the underground transit system many say is beyond repair.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any real change,”Coffey said. “It would take a ton of money and organization and I don’t see it.”
The city leaders plan: tackle homelessness with the help of trained social workers and add more cops to “reimagine” the NYPD’s coverage of the subways.
“I’d like to see police walking around, more dispersed, not on their cellphones,” said Paul Grobman.
But riders say they’re not imagining the risk to their safety. Mayor Adams now says he feels unsafe but that was only after he was criticized for saying it’s only the “perception of fear” that have people scared to get on the train.
“I haven’t seen him taking the train with me and it’s basically become the world’s largest mobile homeless rescue operation and that’s not right,” Coffey said.
“He sees what’s going on, he’s not blind so he can speak for himself but not for everybody else,” said Fernandez.
Rossie Fernandez says she rides the subway terrified she’ll be next. She came out, Tuesday, to attend a candlelight vigil for Michelle Go, who was pushed by a homeless man in front of a moving subway R train to her death, Saturday.
“It’s hard seeing more homeless than ever inside the train, it’s very dangerous,” she said.
Two years ago, the pandemic brought ridership to a screeching halt and it only reached 56 percent of pre-pandemic levels. But still many agree, one sound that’s being ignored – a cry for help by New York City’s homeless.
“It’s like, in a sense, they’re asking for help, they struggle every day out on the street looking for shelter which is hard to do,” said Randy Panton.
“I hope they get the help they need because it’s like a cry out, but I am worried,” Nicole Mitchell said.
The new plan to improve safety is expected to be rolled out immediately. In the meantime, riders say they’re waiting and hope Mayor Adam’s promises don’t go off the rails.