Safer? Cleaner? Easily-Accessible? MTA Highlights its 2023 Efforts

Safer? Cleaner? Easily-Accessible? MTA Highlights its 2023 Efforts

By Yehudit Garmaise

Taking public transportation might not yet be a perfect experience, but New York City’s transit system has tracked its efforts to make the subways safer, cleaner, and used by all New Yorkers.

In November 2023, when 1 billion New Yorkers returned to riding the rails, the MTA reported that subway ridership three-quarters of what it had been before the pandemic.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) highlighted the following accomplishments from 2023.

1. A safer ride?: Last year, the MTA added cameras and more than 1,000 uniformed police officers to drive down subway crime, which had spiked by 40% in 2021. 

Although transit cops last year received more than $151 million more in overtime, Gotham reported that the NYPD counted only 48 fewer felonies overall in the city of subways in 2023. Assaults on the subway, unfortunately, actually increased by 5% in 2023, when the NYPD counted 26 more assaults than in 2022.

Commuters at the city’s busiest subway station, Times Square, got to catch a glimpse of “K5,” a 400-pound, five-foot-three, fully-autonomous outdoor security robot.  The city will soon find out how and whether NYPD robocops can prevent and stop felonies, fair evasion, and anti-Semitism on the subways.

One Boro Parker doubted whether the MTA’s recent efforts can drive down the unfortunate feeling and reality of lawlessness and anti-Semitism in the city right now.

“Truly feeling safe and at ease on the subway is a huge issue that cannot be solved with a few robots and 1,000 officers,” said Yanky B., who does not know what might ensure New Yorkers’ safety underground. The whole subway system is a place of crime.”

2. Increased Toll Enforcement: In 2023, MTA Bridge and Tunnel police increased their enforcement of toll payment. In what was a stunning 47.7% increase over last year, in 2023, MTA cops stopped, ticketed, and towed the cars of 2,771 drivers who regularly failed to pay their tolls. 

3. Cleaner subways? In the MTA’s attempts to provide “deep cleaning and cosmetic upgrades” to the city’s 472 subway stations, so far NYC Transit has completed “Re-NEW-vations” at 62 subway stations. 

No subway stations in Boro Park have yet received the merit of a Re-NEW-vation, but BoroPark24 will keep readers posted. 

Lea’le G., a frequent bus traveler in New York City, said she was “pleased to know that the MTA is ‘deep cleaning’ and otherwise improving subway stations, but unfortunately, she is too scared to currently use the subway.

“I'll look forward to seeing cleaner stations when I feel safer using the subway to get around,” she said hopefully.

4. Increased accessibility for riders with disabilities. The MTA is rolling out accessibility projects and awarding contracts that will make the subway easier to use for everyone. 

The 2020-2024 Capital invested $5.2 billion to make 67 subway stations accessible according to guidelines set by the American Disabilities Association (ADA).  The MTA completed nine, nine ADA-compliant subway station projects were completed, while 42 projects are still in progress.

5. A Balanced Budget: For the first time in more than 20 years, the MTA, known for running on a deficit, has inked a balanced budget for the next five consecutive years. 

Whether the MTA sticks to its budget until 2027, of course, remains to be seen.

One fun new investment the MTA introduced on March 10 was the first R211 subway train. Check out the new fleet, which is scheduled to roll on the A line on the Staten Island Railway early this year.

Another innovation the MTA activated this year is the first contactless OMNY card vending machines that allow 50% of subway riders to “tap-and-go” to come aboard and zip around the city.

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