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More Riders Feel Unsafe on Subways At Night, Survey Finds

By Jill Colvin | September 24, 2012 3:45pm | Updated on September 24, 2012 5:28pm

NEW YORK CITY — A spike in subway crime has straphangers feeling less safe underground after dark and in the early morning hours, a new survey found.

Just 67 percent of riders said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their personal security after 8 p.m. in the subways, according to the MTA’s annual customer satisfaction survey.

That's down from 72 percent who said they felt safe last year, the survey said.

The survey also logged a drop in the percentage of riders who felt safe before 8 a.m., with 85 percent saying they felt secure in the early morning hours — down from 88 percent in 2011.

Still, riders said they were generally pleased with subway service, with 86 percent saying the trains were getting them where they needed to go — up from 81 percent in 2011.

Passengers also gave the MTA higher marks for communicating about subway service, and said they were happier with the overall condition inside subway stations, including stairs, guardrails and escalators, and maintenance and repair.

An MTA spokesman said that perceptions of safety have improved dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s, when crime was much more prevalent than today.

"The fact is that today, customers should feel very safe riding the subway at night," he said, pointing to an average of five major felonies a day in a system that carries more than 5 million people a day.

"Your likelihood of being a victim of a felony on the subway is lower than being struck by lightning or winning the lottery," he said.

The survey, meanwhile, also found growing frustration with tortoise-speed buses — despite recent attempts by the MTA to speed up routes, including more express bus service and dedicated bus lanes.

Many of those polled said they had recently started switching from buses to the subway because  “bus service is too slow."

Quizzed on “how fast the local bus gets you where you want to go,” 75 percent said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" in 2012, down from 81 percent last year.

“The survey indicates that traffic congestion is eroding bus competitiveness,” the MTA said in its  report.

The survey of 18,000 MTA riders was conducted in June.