Where’s the Safety Transparency?

Emily May, one of the co-founders of HollaBack NYC and one of the recent co-founders of New Yorkers for Safe Transit has a great op-ed piece in the NY’s Metro paper about the lack of safety transparency in the crime statistics for NY’s public transportation system.

MTA says there’s been a drop in crime on the subways, however, Emily doesn’t believe they’re accurately tracking persistant harassment crimes that disproportionately impact people of color, LGBTQ folk, and women who fall both within and without the first two groups of people.

“While the experience of harassment and assault is widespread, our access to information on these crimes is severely limited. In 2007, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office released the only report to date on the issue. According to the report, 63 percent of riders are harassed on the subway, and 10 percent are assaulted. With 5 million people riding the subway every weekday, it is fair to say that these crimes are at epidemic proportions.

The MTA’s recent anti-harassment PSAs suggest victims contact an ‘MTA worker or police officer.’ This is an empty gesture; personnel cuts have made station attendants scarce. Riders lucky enough to find help are ‘ignored’ or told ‘there isn’t much they can do,’ according to posts on HollabackNYC.com.

The subways have come a long way since the ’70s, but cleaner trains are not necessarily safer. If we are going to herald our improvements in transit safety, ‘strikes, shoves and kicks,’  ‘following a person in a public place,’ harassment and other misdemeanors must be included in the MTA’s crime count. Until we have safety transparency in our subway, these crimes will continue to stand clear of the closing doors.”

I whole-heartedly agree. I’m very glad she and the other individuals working on New Yorkers for Safe Transit are engaged in activism around this problem.


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