Talk to anyone who’s lived in New York for more than 20 years and you’re bound to get an earful about how much the city has changed. (Hell, talk to anyone who’s lived in New York for more than 1 year and you’re bound to get an earful of the same, but you can feel free to discard those stories because, seriously? A year? You know nothing. Anyway.) But beyond the astronomical increase in real estate costs, the ever-expanding income inequality gap, the dramatically lowered crime rate, the sanitization of Times Square, and the absence of squeegee men on the upper reaches of the West Side Highway, one of the most notable changes in this city is the evolution of the subway system.
Long gone are the days of graffiti-covered Redbird trains and gangs fronted by Wesley Snipes and Michael Jackson roving the abandoned platforms in Hoyt-Schermerhorn. Today, we have a subway system which is cleaner (despite not being actually, you know, clean), more-trafficked (subway ridership now exceeds 1.7 billion people annually, whereas bus ridership is said to exceed 666 million, a number which surely reflects the fact that riding the bus sometimes feels like journeying through the 7th circle of hell), and safer.
Of course, just because the subway system is safer, doesn’t mean it’s totally safe (which anyone who’s ever encountered one of the system’s seemingly ubiquitous subway perverts would be happy to tell you), and so the New York Daily News compiled a comprehensive look at which subway stations have the most crime so that we can all be a little more aware as we go about our daily ritual of squeezing together like sardines in an inconsistently air-conditioned tin can and silently (or not so silently) cursing the pole-leaners among us.
There are two different ways to look at the amount of crime taking place on the subway: total number of crimes and crime rate related to ridership rate. Just in terms of the total number of crimes committed, the overwhelming majority of dangerous stations are the big Manhattan transportation hubs. So, you know, if you’re in Times Square, Union Square, Penn Station, or Grand Central Station (which the News calls “Grope Central Station,” because if you can’t make a pun in reference to sex crimes, when can you pun?), be careful!
But what about Brooklyn? Well, the stations with the most reported criminal activity in Brooklyn over the five-year period of July 208-June 2013 are:
- Broadway Junction A/C/J/L/Z: 825 crimes
- Crown Heights/Utica Avenue 3/4: 661 crimes
- Jay Street/ MetroTech A/C/R: 467 crimes
- Atlantic Avenue/ Barclays Center B/Q/2/3/4/5/D/N/R:465 crimes
- Coney Island/ Stillwell Avenue D/F/N/Q: 371 crimes
However, of those stations, the only one that has a truly significant ratio of crime to ridership is Broadway Junction, where there were 5.76 crimes per 100,000 riders. The other stations all averaged less than 1 crime per 100,000 riders, except for Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue, where the ration was 1.56/100,000. None of these stations, though, came close to approaching what might be seen as the most dangerous station in New York City, the Broad Channel A/S where there were 27.38 crimes per 100,000 riders. Broadway Junction also has either the highest or among the highest boroughwide rates of misdemeanor sex crimes (19), violent crimes (113), property crimes (152), drug crimes (28), weapons possession charges (320).
Looking through these figures, though, I was reminded that while statistics are frequently used to scare people (partially because a lot of people just don’t understand numbers, but also because we usually have no idea what’s really going on around us until we are confronted by the cold, hard truth in the form of, uh, numbers), they should also be seen as reassurance, as is the case with these numbers. It’s easy to feel like the subway is a teeming mass of the dregs of humanity (oh, not you, you’re different) and that not a day goes by without some dude pulling out his dick on the platform or someone pushing someone else in front of an oncoming train, but the fact is that this is a system that transports millions of people each day and billions over the course of a few years. Which, to put it into perspective, means that it’s like the earth’s entire population moves through our subway system every five years. That’s amazing! And during that time? The amount of crimes that take place is relatively microscopic. Could things be better? Sure! They always can. But also, things aren’t really that bad right now, which is an important thing to keep in mind the next time you want to
shove nudge a pole-leaner off his perch. If most of the aggravation that we have to deal with on the subway comes from people like that or mariachi bands, maybe we’re doing just fine.
See all the info and a cool map (!) over on the New York Daily News
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen