Resurrecting the New York Subway

The subway is crucial to mobility in the city of New York. Over the last 10 years, ridership increases on the subway have been more than that of all other transit services in the United States combined. It was not always this way.

In  New York Post article entitled "How Bratton's NYPD Saved the Subway System,"the Manhattan Institute's Nicole Gelinas describes the depths of the problem in 1990, when there were 26 homicides on the subway. Of course, there is nothing more important to civil society than order, and the threat to life and limb on the subway led to a significant ridership loss after 1980.

Gelinas notes that the murder of a Utah youth that year "would help propel Rudy Giuliani into the mayor’s office three years later, as Democratic voters turned to a Republican prosecutor to get a seemingly ungovernable city under control." Gelinas tells the story of how new transit police chief William Bratton brought the subway under control and helped to make possible the highest ridership levels since World War II. Gelninas notes that " Policing played a huge role in making Gotham’s subways safe, as it did in reducing crime throughout the city. In fact, the New York crime turnaround began in the subways, and what the police discovered about violence underground would prove essential to the broader battle for the city’s streets."

Bratton played an important role in this city-wide progress, after he was appointed as New York City's police commissioner by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. His success and is widely considered to have been influencial in the more effective policing strategies that have been, at least in part, credited with much lower urban crime rates in the last century. Indeed, the urban core (downtown) residential renaissance evident in many cities would not have been possible otherwise.