Commuter Students Talk NYC Transit Safety

Herman Lee
The Long Island Rail Road service resumed on Monday after a crash that injured over 30 people.

Many NYU students rely on public transportation to get to class, especially commuter students who live too far to walk or cycle to their classes. This makes recent transit mishaps all the more concerning.

A New Jersey Transit train crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29, while three LIRR carriages derailed on Oct. 8.

NYU Public Safety alerted the NYU community about the LIRR accident — which injured 33 people — but these neighboring transportation system failures beg the question: how safe is New York City transportation?

Zhan Guo, an associate professor of urban planning and transportation policy, said the deficits of the United States public transportation system stem from underfunding.

“On public transit, we are a third world country compared to many other places,” Guo said. “It’s very clear if you go to Europe, the Asian countries and many places around the world.”

Despite the fact that New York City may lack the proper financial resources to support its subway system — one which is constantly hampered with delays — Guo said he believes it is both efficient and safe. However, he also said that the word safe depended on people’s definitions of the word.

CAS junior Max King was not fazed by either crash, and he said that transportation safety issues are simply an unfortunate byproduct of rapidly-growing transportation systems in the U.S.

“My only real complaint is that it’s dirty — it’s super gross,” King said. “I mean, every time we get into a car and cross the street or whatever, we’re taking our life in our own hands, so I don’t really worry about it.”

But even with its grimy nature, King said that he used to think the New York subway system was the best one, since he came to NYU from New Mexico — which does not have a subway system. This perception changed after riding different subways abroad.

“I was visiting my girlfriend — we’re in Taiwan — and their subway system is immaculate. Beautiful,” King said. “I was like ‘Oh my god!’”

CAS junior Nicholas Marshall rides the A train almost every single day, and his only complaint about it was also that it has become a skeleton of itself.

The Wall Street Journal said that the subway’s performance has progressively worsened and an audit found that the trains are increasingly inconsistent.

“Some stations seem to be falling apart,” Marshall said. “I’ve seen some stations where the tiles are falling off, or where you have water damage, where the wall would look rusty.”

However, he does not worry about the subway’s safety, since it takes him throughout New York City in an affordable, efficient manner.

“Especially since I don’t drive myself, it’s convenient,” Marshall said. “I don’t think it makes you feel unsafe — I don’t think the train has derailed in years.”

CORRECTION: This article previously misspelled Professor Guo’s first name; it is Zhan, not Zhang. Guo is also an associate professor, not an assistant professor. WSN regrets the errors.

Email Herman Lee at [email protected]

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