Exclusive: NYC Transit Authority president rides subway amid spike in violent crime

Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Exclusive: Transit authority president rides subway amid spike in violent crime
Interim Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg spoke with N.J. Burkett while riding on the subway.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Brutal and random crimes in the subway system are raising concerns about the return of passengers and 24/7 service in a matter of weeks.

Interim transit authority president Sarah Feinberg says more riders are returning to the New York City subway system every day -- despite concerns about safety and the dangerously mentally ill.

"Two million people a day is nothing to sneeze at, right?" Feinberg said. "This, to me, feels like people are coming back."

WATCH | Riders speak out on subway safety during their commute

As crime has gone up on the subway, many people are apprehensive to ride the rails as more commuters start returning to work in NYC.

But the moment Eyewitness News boarded an uptown 6 train she came face-to-face with the very problem she's trying to fix-a belligerent hostile rider.

Police were notified to intercept the train minutes later.

Eyewitness News reporter N.J. asked Feinberg if she felt threatened in the moment.

"No, I didn't feel threatened, I'm worried for what's going on with that guy," Feinberg said. "We see that all day, every day, throughout the system. Everyone in that car felt it, and was probably thinking, you know, 'Am I gonna change cars or am I gonna wait for the next train? That's the kind of experience that we just don't need when we're trying to bring the city back."

Crime in the subways, particularly assaults, is up, despite plunging ridership.

From over five million a day to under one million in April of last year. In the months that followed, riders have been attacked and transit workers have been harassed and assaulted.

As recently as Sunday, a 23-year-old woman was punched and robbed in the 14th Street L Train station at 6 p.m.

"He just sort of came out of nowhere and got me from behind," the victim said. "It was really upsetting but there's nothing I can do about it right now."

The subways will return to 24/7 service after a year of overnight disinfecting. But even Governor Andrew Cuomo admits there is a crisis of confidence.

"The subways have to be safe," Cuomo said. "New York City has to be safe."

When it comes to crime in the subways, Feinberg believes perception is reality.

"The quality of life incidents that, you know, the interactions you might have when you're alone in a real car, that kind of stuff that might just make people think twice about coming back to the system," Feinberg said. "That's why I want some additional resources right now."

RELATED | NYC subway sets date to resume 24-hour service

As more and more New Yorkers return to their offices, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it's time for the MTA to restore full 24/7 subway service.


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