New York City hires 200 private guards for subway in response to spike in violent crime

Subway operator has called on mayor Bill de Blasio to contribute to the $26m cost

Alice Hutton
Monday 24 May 2021 18:52 BST
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New York City’s subway will spend $2.2m a month on 200 unarmed, private security guards to encourage riders to return following a spike in crime during the pandemic.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) hired 100 guards shortly after the outbreak of Covid-19 last year to protect the additional cleaning crews after a wave of violent incidents.

That number will now double to 200 as the company works to recover the “significant” 90% drop in riders in 2020, compared to 2019 when 1.7 billion used the system.

The pandemic profoundly disrupted the number of people using the city’s trains, with many working from home, swapping to cars or leaving the city entirely.

Despite the roll out of vaccines across the US, ridership has reportedly only recovered to a third of what it was before the arrival of the airborne virus.

Mike Cortez, a spokesman for MTA, told The Independent that the cost is estimated to be $2.2m a month or $26.4m a year, out of their total annual budget of $17bn.

He said: “There is no higher priority for the MTA than the safety and security of our customers. Like other transit systems across the country the MTA has experienced a significant dip in ridership as a result of the pandemic and a spike in crime.”

He also called on mayor Bill de Blasio to “partner with us and do more to address these incidents in the subway and the ongoing mental health crisis in the city.”

The guards, who will not carry guns, will be deployed to select stations in addition to terminals where the trains are cleaned.

Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD’s transit-police chief told The Wall Street Journal, however, that data showed that overall major crime numbers are low and claimed that the MTA was “fearmongering.”

Crime was up 30.4 per cent in April compared to the same month a year earlier, according to figures released by the NYPD.

Robberies were up 28.6 per cent, while shooting incidents were up more than 166 per cent, with 149 compared to 56 a year earlier.

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