Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said many New Yorkers are “afraid” to take the subway —and that he wouldn’t tell his own child to ride the rails — in a passionate defense of the MTA’s months-long push for more NYPD cops on city transit.
“You want people on the subways. You can’t ignore the reasons why people don’t want to go on the subway,” Cuomo said during a press briefing in Manhattan, in which he was asked to defend his appointed MTA leadership’s recent focus on crime and harassment.
“I relate to it because, as you know, I am a New Yorker, born and bred,” Cuomo told reporters, before appearing to assume the perspective of an average straphanger.
“Don’t lie to me. And don’t play me as a fool,” he said. “‘Come on the subway. It’s safe!’ Oh really. Have you been on the subway? Because I have, and I was scared.’”
“‘Tell your child to ride the subway! It’s safe!’ Yeah, I’m not telling my child to ride the subway, because I’m afraid for my child.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD criticized MTA leaders last month for publicizing customer concerns about crime and harassment on the system, which the city officials said would “discourage” New Yorkers from returning to transit after the COVID-19 pandemic.
They noted that crime rates dropped in recent months, while ridership increased.
The subways saw 2.32 felony crimes per million riders in March 2021, compared to 2.65 felonies per million riders the previous month, NYPD stats show. But both figures are significantly higher than the 1.47 crimes per million riders across the year 2019.
The MTA is preparing a publicity campaign to help bring riders back, state officials said.
“If you ignore the problem, you’re not fooling anyone. You’re not deceiving anyone. You can’t say to anyone in New York City today, ‘Don’t worry, it’s safe,’” Cuomo said.
“You guys have to get out of the mentality that everybody lives in Manhattan.”
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