Personal safety and economic health in New York City

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg often makes the point that the city’s economic health depends on steadily reducing crime rates. Speaking late last week at at a conference organized by the Regional Plan Association, a group that tries to improve the quality of life in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, Bloomberg said:

A woman can walk in every neighborhood I know in the day without looking over her shoulder. There are some areas where I wouldn’t recommend it at night.

The way people manage car safety has also improved, Bloomberg added.

When was the last time you saw a sign saying ‘No radio inside’?

The metal bar locks that once straddled steering wheels also have disappeared, he said. Since the mayor took office in 2002, the number of major felony offenses – murder to grand larceny – has fallen to just under 107,000 in 2011 from almost 155,000, according to New York City Police Department data.

The mayor spoke just two days after the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s buses, subways, commuter railroads, and some major bridges and tunnels, was repeatedly questioned by reporters about a spike in crime on the subways.

Thefts of cell phones have climbed, leading the MTA to begin “advertising to people to be very careful how they use their tablet devices,” Chairman Joseph Lhota said, after a board meeting. “The bad guys have figured out there’s a secondary market for it (cell phones),” he said.

NY Transit shies away from “revolution”

New York does not need to go the way of other countries and create multi-state bureaucracies to finance and build mass transit systems, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chairman. Joseph Lhota, who runs New York City’s buses, subways, commuter rail roads and major bridges and tunnels, dismissed that recommendation:

We’re talking revolution – that is a complete waste of time. It just requires people to come together with a common purpose.

Ironically, the MTA chairman made the comments late last week at a conference organized by a multi-state group, the Regional Plan Association. It was created in 1922 to improve the quality of life in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Economists agree that New York’s mass transit system must be expanded to the city’s outer boroughs, Long Island and Connecticut, to keep its economy growing. New connections with New Jersey, which has its own transit system, are still in the early stages.