But they aren’t worried about contracting COVID-19, they’re worried about their physical safety as they return to the city’s subway system.
Stations across the city were nearly deserted for the first few months of the pandemic last year except for the brave men and women working on the front lines, paving the way for an unsavory element to feel more comfortable taking over the system.
We have all heard the stories of random attacks, including people being assaulted or pushed onto the tracks or both, that have become far too common in the mass transit system. If the city is going to get back to work, people need to feel comfortable using the subways.
Would more cops patrolling the platforms and trains help? Mayor Bill de Blasio recently added 250 more cops to the 3,000 already safeguarding the subways, and it certainly can’t hurt.
But in addition to the criminal element, there is a far bigger problem with the homeless and mentally ill living in the stations. More cops won’t necessarily solve that issue.
Instead, the city and MTA need a social solution. They need people who are trained in dealing with the homeless and mentally ill to join the police in engaging these individuals and try to get them help.
Simply locking them up and then releasing them back on the street won’t accomplish anything.
After a year of us all worrying about our health due to the pandemic, we need to feel safe in the subways as our lives slowly return to normal.