Transit officials have added 1,000 security cameras in New York City subway and regional train stations in 2020 and intend to add even more in 2021.
They hope to have live video security coverage at all 472 by the end of 2021.
Patrick Foye, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, said the agency is pushing the cameras as a safety measures, as polls indicate commuters are avoiding the train out of fear of crime.
Foye insisted that subway system is safer overall than it was a decade or two ago, but acknowledged that harassment and “the rate of crimes and misdemeanors on a per rider basis” has risen since before the coronavirus pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Foye, who travels every day via train from Long Island to Manhattan, admitted “[if] you go to Penn Station and other stations, harassment is a real issue.”
The subway, which typically carried 5.5 million passengers on an average weekday before March 2020, and recently reached 2 million for the first time as the region recovers from the pandemic and workers return to their offices.
Now, the challenge for the MTA and city officials is to ease passenger fears about crime, as high profile violence, especially hate crimes against Asian-Americans, dominate headlines.
A recent MTA survey of 33,000 commuters found that more than one-third of passengers had stayed away from public transit recently out of fear of crime.
Kathleen O’Reilly, the New York Police Department’s chief of transit, criticized the MTA for their lack of more hopeful messaging, noting that major crime such as assault and theft was down 53% compared to 2020.
“We are dealing with the perception the subway is not safe,” she said.
In addition to the security cameras, another 1,000 NYPD officers will join the 3,000-strong force that travels the 650 miles of subway and its 472 stations.