每日跟讀#639: How Subway Delays and the Homeless Crisis Are Intertwined
After years of decline, New York’s subway is showing signs of improvement, with the percentage of trains running on time creeping upward.
But at least one area is getting worse: disruptions involving homeless people.
Trains were delayed 659 times last year by homeless people walking on tracks, blocking train doors and engaging in other unruly behavior — a 54% increase from the 428 such delays in 2014, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway.
And the disruptions have continued to escalate this year, with 313 train delays in the first three months.
“It’s a real challenge, and a growing challenge, and that’s consistent with the broader challenge in the city,” said Andy Byford, the official who oversees the subway. “We’re just not equipped to deal with this on our own.”
Though the subway has long been a refuge for those with nowhere to go, transit officials and riders said they were seeing more homeless people on the subway as the city struggled to address an intractable homeless crisis.
New York has opened 23 new homeless shelters since 2017 and has 20 more in development. It has poured more than $80 million since 2014 into new centers, outreach programs and specialized services specifically aimed at homeless people on the street, including the creation of a database that helps outreach workers identify and track individuals by name.
It has also taken more punitive steps. Police officers have handed out a flurry of civil summonses to try to clamp down on disruptive behavior on the subway. Currently, 1,600 to 1,800 summonses per week are issued for prohibited transit conduct — including jumping turnstiles, stretching out in subways cars and on platforms, smoking and drinking alcohol — which is about 16% more than in 2016, according to police officials.
But it has not been enough. Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to crack down on homeless people camped out in the subways. About 58,000 people live in city shelters and an additional 3,800 are on the streets and in the subway.
Now, city and transit officials are ratcheting up their efforts with a new program aimed at persuading homeless people to leave the subway by offering to waive a civil summons if they agree to go with outreach workers who can offer a variety of services, such as a bed in a shelter or medical treatment.
Summonses carry a fine varying from $25 to $100, including $100 for fare evasion, $75 for moving between subway cars and $50 for obstructing seats.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/342183/web/#2L-15113439L