Hochul and Adams Subway Plan is Beneficial for Everyone


The politicians unveiled a new plan to make subways in NYC safer. (Courtesy of Twitter)

A recent news conference at Manhattan’s Fulton Street subway station saw Mayor Eric Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul announce a landmark yet controversial plan for a safer subway system. Notably, they are calling for the removal of New York’s homeless from the transit system. The plan includes a host of measures including NYPD teams clearing trains of all people at the end of the lines. Additionally, there is a direct mandate for police enforcement against unruly behavior on trains and in stations, such as smoking, drug use, laying down or sleeping on benches, spitting, littering and aggressive behavior towards riders. Also included in the plan are direct investments into mental health services, shelters and emergency response teams.

To some, these measures and the extent to which they are laid out in the plan may seem rather draconian, cruel or offensive to New York’s homeless community. Josh Dean, Executive Director of Human.NYC, an advocacy group for the homeless, contends that, “aggressive NYPD targeting of homeless New Yorkers does not solve homelessness — it just moves it. We need to take an entirely different approach, centered around housing, around compassion and around building trust. We cannot more strongly condemn today’s plan and the dehumanizing rhetoric that accompanied it.” 

Dean’s stance is admirable; however, it is misguided when it comes to the realities of what New Yorkers experience on the trains daily and the contents of the Mayor and Governor’s plan. On this issue, Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul are spot on. 

According to NBC 4 New York, transit crime in New York City rose by 30% between last week and the week before, and it has risen 200% over the past year. This trend has been occurring for months now, and the city as a whole has experienced one of the worst crime surges in decades. This year alone, there have been numerous stabbing incidents, lewd public behavior and even murder in the transit system. Just this past week, a homeless man was arrested for slashing a rider with a large knife after the rider accidentally bumped into him and threw a beverage can. 

These numbers and recent behaviors are simply unacceptable, especially for what is often lauded as America’s best public transportation system. Millions of people in New York depend on the subway system to get to work and commute across the city every day. We shouldn’t have to worry about getting stabbed or pushed onto the tracks when we ride the trains. This is above stopping people from sleeping on the train benches or seeking shelter under a staircase — it’s about protecting lives. 

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the Subway Safety Plan is that it actually does come from a place of compassion for the homeless and mentally ill. The plan is very compressive in its focus on the homeless, citing the addition of “490 safe havens and ‘stabilization’ beds — shelters that provide mental health treatment — as well as the creation of new drop-in centers for homeless people at key subway stations through a $100 million state investment. Along with police, the city will dispatch 30 joint response teams that include homeless services and health department workers to conduct outreach to homeless people on the subway.” 

This is a landmark investment in New York’s homeless and mentally ill population and is one of the largest steps to improve their lives in years. It is sure to create lasting change in the lives of many New Yorkers. The increased police presence and harsher enforcement against spitting or smoking might grab the headlines, but the real strength of the plan is its compassion and thoughtfulness. 

Finally, city and state government officials have recognized that there is absolutely no dignity in living on a train or in a subway station. By allowing homeless New Yorkers to spend their lives underground in the trains and stations, we are just giving ourselves an excuse to ignore them and the very real problems that they face. For far too long, people in this city have been forgotten about and left to suffer under the guise of compassion and, frankly, laziness toward helping fellow New Yorkers. This new plan shows genuine care for New York’s homeless and the general public’s safety. Mayor Adams contends, “This is not about arresting people … This is about arresting a problem.” On this, he could not be more correct. 

Peter McGowan, FCRH ’24, is a political science major from Rochester, N.Y.