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New poll finds crime, subway safety are top concerns keeping New Yorkers from returning to offices

Poll: Subway safety is top concern about returning to NYC offices 02:59

NEW YORK -- As Mayor Eric Adams struggles to rejuvenate the pandemic-torn economy, a troubling new poll finds that the biggest obstacle to getting people back to work in person is subway safety.

"People are scared. People are scared," said Kathryn Wylde, of the Partnership for New York City.

Wylde spoke to CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer about why it's been so difficult to get people to stop telecommuting and come back to offices in Midtown and the Financial District

"The poll reflects the basic anxiety that people feel about their own personal security and about the future of the city. Almost 40% of those polled said they were considering moving out of the city," Wylde said.

According to the poll, which included nearly 10,000 people, it's all because of crime, subway crime and homelessness.

Of those polled,

  • 94% said not enough is being done to address homelessness and mental illness,
  • 74% of transit riders say safety has gotten worse since the start of the pandemic,
  • 46% say not enough is being done to address turnstile jumping,
  • and 57% say not enough is being done to address shoplifting.

That's bad news for a mayor trying to restore the city's economy.

"We'll see our tax rolls go down if we don't see an improvement. I mean, if 40% of the respondents to this poll ... are seriously considering leaving the city, that''s a lot of tax dollars flowing out of New York," Wylde said.

Since he took office, Adams has embarked on a number of indicatives to make the subways safer. Just this week, the NYPD launched a quality-of-life offensive that will also target fare-jumping.

The move angered a number of progressive politicians, but the mayor says he doesn't care.

"We're talking about how do we deal with the quality of life, and when we talk about quality of life, people talk about unfair enforcement. I have to ignore all of that because those 10,000 people matter to me," Adams said.

"You're seeing cops and social workers at these end of line stations, taking homeless people off the trains, trying to get them in to services and get them out of the subway system. We also need to do what the mayor has been talking about, which is to push harder on fare evasion ... The bad guys who want to come in to the system need to be stopped at the fare gates," MTA chair and CEO Janno Lieber said.

"I just don't feel safe. I was just on the subway just now and there was a guy, looked like he could have been homeless,  very vulgar, taking up much of the seats on the subway," one man said.

"I've been here in New York City 67 years and I love the subways," another person said.

"Regarding safety, I don't feel so great about it either. I think there are a lot of people who seem very disturbed and that's really very dangerous," another person said.

So far only about 40% of the workforce has returned to their offices. The mayor wants everyone back.

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