New York, NY – As we look to finally move past the pandemic, there’s still a great number of workers who are refusing to return to the office. Although Covid concerns are an ongoing challenge — people are noting other worries as well. One worry, in particular, is crime and increasing subway danger. 

Ben Kimmel.

Unprovoked shoving attacks [such as the one that took place in January when a man pushed New Yorker Michelle Alyssa Go onto the subway tracks] validate these fears. And while Mayor Eric Adams insists he is working to improve safety conditions — last Tuesday’s horrific shooting at a Brooklyn subway stop demonstrates the magnitude of the crisis. 

Frank R. James, the suspect in the worst mass shooting in the history of the subway system, is in custody for allegedly setting off smoke bombs and indiscriminately shooting riders inside a crowded subway car traveling along the N line on April 12. Although James may no longer be a threat to anyone, the threat of more violence is still very real for working-class New Yorkers. 

As fate would have it, I was in Brooklyn taking part in a workplace wellbeing seminar when the shooting took place. The seminar was held in a large conference room; the bulk of the nine-hundred attendees, however, were virtual. When asked about the incident, some replied with some variation of, “I will never go back into the city again.” It is important to keep in mind that many of these same workers were in Downtown Manhattan during the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

Kathryn Wylde, of the Partnership for New York City, summed it up simply. “People are scared,” she said. 

A recent report found the following:

  • 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

“Safety, homelessness and mental illness rank as top issues for New York City’s private sector employees. They are resisting a return to the office until something is done to address them, particularly on public transit,” according to the report. 

This is why people are hesitant to return to the office. And since business has proven they can run smoothly from remote locations, many workers have decided to stay right where they are — safe at home. It’s also the reason why some are considering moving out of the city entirely. 

Not everyone is afraid, and not all rides on the subway are frightening or dangerous. Either way, something needs to be done. Stay safe, folks!

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at



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