The NYC Subways: Should You Still Ride Them?


Pablo Estua Carrillo, Staff Writer

While the city of New York has been making a gradual recovery to its former self since the start of the COVID pandemic, the subway stations do not resemble the same sort of change. Residents from the five boroughs have hesitated to return to this form of transportation due to the violent incidents that have occurred recently, especially in the year 2022. As all of these events are happening, certain questions sift through debaters’ minds: Are the subway stations safe anymore? With the prevalent violence, is the most efficient transportation worth riding? 

Just a few weeks ago, on Sunday, May 22, the fourth fatal incident from this year took place from an unprovoked individual on a subway Q train. The victim, Daniel Enriquez, had been sitting in the last car of the train. Meanwhile, the suspect, Andrew Abdullah, was pacing in the same car for the duration of the ride. “Abdullah is alleged to have opened fire on the Manhattan-bound Q train around 11:50 a.m. Sunday, killing Daniel Enriquez,” according to NBC News. Enriquez was then quickly transported to a nearby hospital where he later died from a gunshot wound to his chest. The alleged shooter hasn’t faced any charges yet following the NYPD officers taking him into the 5th Precinct on Tuesday, May 24. Enriquez was an employee of Goldman Sachs and had presumably avoided using the transit system, even though his home is located in Brooklyn, NY. Other tragic incidents on the subways include people being pushed onto the train tracks, civilians being stabbed, a mass shooting while smoke grenades were set off in a train car, and many more. 

After passengers were pushed onto the tracks in January, the head of the subway system strongly advised people who are boarding a train not to stand near the yellow line or the edge of the platform. One of the event’s victims, who was 62 years old, acquired a few severe injuries, such as a lacerated leg, from making contact with a train car. Another victim from the same type of incident, an Asian-American resident of New York, was sadly not fortunate enough to obtain merely the same injuries that the other person previously mentioned did. She passed away after she was pushed from the platform edge in a transit station in Times Square. 

In the midst of Sunday’s predicament, subway concerns were again raised as the situation served as a perfect example for many people not to utilize this transportation system. As a cause of this, only 61 percent of the passengers have come back since before COVID. Meanwhile, crime rates in the system have increased by 62.5 percent in 2022 while they were surprisingly low around this time in the previous year. However, residents from underprivileged neighborhoods have made a quicker return to the system as it is much more challenging for them to work from home than in other areas. Workers from areas like the financial district of Manhattan have found it easier to operate virtually, which is why the subway stations in these parts of the city are usually more empty. 

In December of 2021, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) created a financial plan to find ways to compensate for the lost revenue caused by the significant decrease in the usage of the transit system. Major portions of NYC’s total revenue derive from the daily subway passengers. Even with this plan, the projected number of riders in 2025 is substantially less than three years ago—223 million fewer passengers (about 13%). In addition, New York mayor Eric Adams has been seeking to fulfill the promise he announced during his campaign—to restrain gun violence. To become closer to following through with it, he released a plan in February that worked to increase the presence of police officers in the subway system. Nonetheless, there were no cops in the train car in which Enriquez was killed. To reassure the people of his vow, after another tragedy in April, he promised to attempt to obtain detection technology that would prevent the possession of weapons in the stations. 

The New York subway system is a part of the daily commute for millions of people across different areas and needs to be returned to its essential role in many others’ lives. But first, it needs to get rid of some of the negative qualities, especially violence, that it acquired during the COVID pandemic in order to go back to the way it was or even improve.