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Opinion: Public Transportation, More Safe Than You Think

Updated: Dec 14, 2021


How safe do you feel on the NYC subway? (Photo: Joseph Whelan)

With over 8 million people, New York is the most populated city in the United States with its residents tightly packed and unevenly distributed on its limited land.

New York is larger than life, with an inability to spread out due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson River, with the only way for it to grow out is for it to grow up.

New Yorkers have limited forms of operable public transit systems and with that many people relying on its service, public transportation can become crowded and not entirely the safest place; especially during rush hours.

Even though our campus is in downtown Brooklyn, it can still be quite a ride every day, if you don’t live on-campus. Not every New Yorker, or Brooklynite for that matter, has the luxury of living in the city, therefore forcing them to live further from the hustle and bustle because it’s just cheaper.

The city is notoriously full of surprises. The variety of communities in Manhattan alone creates diversity that is not only about race, but background, language, opinion, and class.

For me, commuting is not the worst thing in my day. It’s only 30 minutes back and forth from campus to the very South of Brooklyn to an area called Sheepshead Bay.

In my opinion, a majority of people prefer to live in areas such as lower Brooklyn because it’s cheaper, but usually they still work somewhere upstate because that’s where all the opportunities and money are as NYC once promised.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind moving a little up, but it would mean I would likely have to pay twice what I am already paying for my apartment for the same square footage I am currently inhabiting. I can’t afford that right now, so instead I like reading a book on my way to school or observing people against the unspoken rule of “no eye contact on the subway.”

I do, however, feel safe enough while commuting: I see young kids or middle schoolers coming back from school without any escort and they usually are together with friends, meaning it’s less likely to be disturbed with multiple people during the daytime.

New York is huge and the subway is usually packed, so everyone wants to believe that if something happens, some fellow residents wouldn’t let anything bad happen to them.

I have definitely seen some stuff during the several years I’ve been living in different parts of New York.

Homeless people are a common concern when they beg on subway platforms, poop in public places, or scream their political beliefs for everyone to hear during your commute.

For some people, it doesn’t sound safe enough, such as those who are raising families in New York and would prefer less social confrontations with strangers as possible.

I, on the other hand, have always known what New York is about and how exotic some people can be. This was actually one of the main reasons I chose to move here — not because of NYC being a “centre of the universe” or piles of opportunities laying down on the streets. New York’s initial attraction was the variety of people.

Life in New York can become paranoid, especially with this new app called Citizen.

Occasionally I go out with my friends and they talk about stuff they saw being posted on this app. Things like: “Men harassing people with machetes on the R train”, “Raccoon attacks on Flatbush Avenue“, “Goats burglarizing vehicles”, “Reported Ice Cream man armed with a gun” and many, many others.

To be honest, some of this stuff sounds really scary, some is just funny, but I would definitely feel more paranoid if I would receive daily notifications from the Citizen app.

Some of my friends even stopped taking the subway and now spend much more money on Uber to get to Manhattan or Brooklyn. I however prefer to live with the thought that if something happens, it is bound to happen anyway.

New York is safe enough and the safety as well as the dangers lies in the quantity of people.

Somebody feels safer, when he is surrounded by many others; he hopes that nothing would happen to him inside the crowd or the crowd would quickly pay attention and stop it. Others would feel safer if they are alone or around people they know.

Fortunately or unfortunately, New York gives you several options and you see a new group of strangers every day on the subway or bus. The best way to make yourself feel safe would be to mind your own business but keep observing in case something feels off.

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