New York leaders released a plan on Friday to strictly enforce rules on the New York City subway as part of an aggressive effort to remove the homeless from the city’s sprawling public transit system. .
“No more doing whatever you want,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference announcing the plan Friday at a lower Manhattan subway station. “Those days are over. Swipe your MetroCard, use the system and get off at your destination. That’s what this administration says.
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers will be given a ‘clear mandate’ to enforce subway rules of conduct, which include no lying down, creating an unsanitary environment and no smoking or open drinking drug.
The plan comes in light of an uptick in criminal assaults on the subway which, while rare, were up 25% in 2021 compared to 2019. Last month the death of an Asian American woman who was pushed from a subway platform into the path of a train prompted strong pledges from Adams, who took office in early January, to bolster law enforcement in the subway system. Adams in January pledged to increase subway inspections and add 1,000 more cops to the system.
As part of the plan, NYPD officers will undergo additional training on conduct enforcement. The city said officers will be stationed at the end of subway lines, where all passengers will be required – rather than encouraged – to leave the train.
Along with increased law enforcement, Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the city and state would expand outreach services to homeless people who may be living on the subway. In addition to close 50,000 people living in the city’s shelter system, approximately 2,400 people live homeless in the city, many turn to the subway at night for warmth.
More crisis teams will provide mental health support to homeless people, increasing the number of mental health professionals who respond to non-violent calls to 911 and expanding “shelter” beds that provide shelter and support. local social services. The city says it will also create new visitor centers near major subway stations that will provide “an immediate pathway for individuals to come inside.”
“It’s not about arresting people, it’s about arresting a problem. We will fix the conditions,” Adams said Friday. “It is cruel and inhumane to allow homeless people to live on the subway, and unfair to paying passengers and transit workers who deserve a clean, orderly and safe environment. The days of turning a blind eye to this growing problem are over.
At the press conference, Adams also noted that “it’s a big mistake not to enforce fare evasion,” saying he planned to raise the issue of possible action against fare evasion with the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Adams’ plan is just the latest in a long history of police enforcement in the subway system, which is run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a state-level agency. . In 2019, former Governor Andrew Cuomo sparked controversy when he promised a crackdown on homelessness and subway fare evasion by adding more police to patrol the system.
Some advocates for homeless people living in the city say that, given its historic shortage of stable temporary and permanent housing, increased subway enforcement is not solving homelessness.
“Forcing people off trains in the freezing cold doesn’t help the homeless. The police are not allowing people to be safely housed,” said Peter Malvan, a homeless advocate with the Urban Justice Center Safety Net Project, in a declaration. “This approach is wrong, illegal and a frightening path to criminalization.”
New leaders now say security concerns have hampered efforts to increase traffic in the metro, which is hovering just above 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
“People tell me about their fear of using the system, and we’re going to make sure that fear isn’t the reality of New York City,” Adams said. “We are back, and it is imperative that we have the right answer that is both human and clear.”