New York City: Public Transit

For Opinium’s inaugural ‘New York State of Mind’ Survey, we asked 1,000 New Yorkers (across all 5 boroughs) about their experiences living in what many call “the greatest city in the world”. Twice yearly, our team will dig deep into what New Yorkers think, feel, and do. This enables us to understand the most exciting and urgent issues facing New Yorkers today.

Here, we explore one of the most critical concerns that came to light in the survey: attitudes towards public transit and feelings of safety (or lack thereof) in New York City. This report provides an overview of our findings on this topic and emphasizes the extent to which this problem impacts New Yorkers.

The Subway is New York’s most popular transit option

Aside from walking, transit is the most frequently used form of transportation in New York City. Over half (54%) of New Yorkers report using the subway weekly or more, and nearly a quarter (23%) report using the subway daily. Interestingly, Gen Zers are almost twice as likely to report taking the subway every day, with 44% reporting they use the subway on a daily .

New York City’s Public Transit system performs well for a majority of New York transit users on proximity to where users want to go/live (71%/69% satisfied), ease of navigation (66%), efficiency (59%), speed (56%), and reliability (53%).

Overall, only a third (33%) of New Yorkers report being satisfied with the NYC Public Transit’s safety, and less than a third (31%) are satisfied with its cleanliness.

Feelings of safety are stratified by gender and race in New York

Among New Yorkers, men are more likely than women to use the subway weekly or more. While nearly three in five (59%) men report taking the subway weekly or more, less than half (48%) of women report the same.

This may in part be related to New Yorkers’ satisfaction with subway safety. Less than two in five (38%) New York men are satisfied with New York City’s Public Transit System’s safety, which is even lower among New York women (29%). Furthermore, half (50%) of New York women report being unsatisfied with New York City transit’s safety, compared to only 41% of men.

Additionally, women in New York are far more likely to feel unsafe riding the subway alone at night compared to their male counterparts: two-thirds (66%) of women report feeling unsafe riding the subway at night, compared to 52% of men.

While 59% of all New Yorkers report feeling unsafe riding the subway alone at night, this figure rises to 65% among Asian as well as Hispanic or Latino New Yorkers.

Outside of the subway in New York, feelings of safety are also stratified by gender. Men in New York are nearly twice as likely to feel safe walking alone at night (42%) in comparison to New York women (23%). Furthermore, the majority of women (58%) feel unsafe walking alone at night. Considering how commonplace walking and taking the subway are in New York City, the prevalence of New York women who feel unsafe should be treated as an urgent and critical issue.