How Safe is the NY Subway at Night?

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Subway has revolutionized the way we traveled around the city many decades ago. Billions of people use it every day around the world because it offers so much to us and asked very little in return. Single tickets and ticket plans exist in many shapes and forms, there are hundreds if not thousands of stops around the biggest cities in the world, and the railway maps are thoughtfully and carefully planned ahead in order for everyone to enjoy their commuting or sightseeing to the fullest.

Perhaps the most famous and commonly used subway network on the planet is the one in New York City, USA. The iconic city has tons of easily recognizable sights that people from far and wide know and love. Except for these famous buildings and monuments, the metropolis is also known for its huge subway system.

However, as famous as it is, it is also infamous for its nighttime safety and crime. It does not help than many of the stations, stairways, halls, and corridors look spooky at night due to their age and old-fashioned architecture. In this article, we will see the New York subway system safe to ride at night.


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The operation began in 1904, and now the trains operate 24 hours a day. Back in 2017, they delivered more than 1.72 billion, with an average of 5.6 million rides on weekdays, and 5.7 rides every weekend. The highest single-day record is September 23, 2014, when more than 6.1 million people rode the subway.

There is 394 km of routes in the city, made up of 36 lines and 28 services. The whole network owns 6418 vehicles, and the headway between them is 2 – 5 minutes during peak hours, and 10 – 20 minutes during non-peak hours. The average speed of the trains is 27 km/h, while the top speed is 89 km/h.


After a long night of work, school, or sightseeing, millions of citizens and tourists plan their way back to their homes and hotels. New York is an enormous place, and with large parts of the city and neighborhoods like Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan, it often takes hours to wait for a subway train and get to your place of choosing. Not everyone can afford Ubers all the time, so the subway it the cheapest and most obvious choice.

The problem arises at night when you lower yourself underground and start seeing suspicious groups of people and beggars at every corner of the network. It is an uneasy feeling normal for anyone, but is this actually like in the movies, and are you likely to be mugged or robbed while waiting for a train?

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Not really. Most New Yorkers will tell you that the subway system is safe to take. In places like NYC, there are all sorts of people around, and if something were to happen to you, it would not necessarily be in or outside a train. People generally mind their own business, sit or stand quietly, or observe the many forms of street performers and artists that just love to show off their skills inside of the wagons.

This is nothing but a huge stereotype that we saw in Hollywood movies and heard in stories. Crime probably does happen here, but it happens everywhere else, as well. There is no reason to isolate the subway in your head as a dangerous place. If you, however, want to feel safer while you ride, there is something you can do. Check here for more information, and read the tips we have for you underneath.

  1. Map it out

Make sure to download a picture or a pdf of the network station. This way, you can access it even if Wi-Fi is not available, or if your data runs out. Always map out your route before you leave and arrive at the subway in order to get a better sense of where you should be and what trains go where. To feel extra safe and avoid unnecessary time underground, check the official website of the NYC subway for any last-minute updates or news.

  1. Give Yourself Time

Around and after midnight, there are simply fewer trains that go around the city. This results in longer waiting times at the stations, and therefore longer time away from home. What you can do instead of waiting underground is make your way to the next closest station and slash some minutes from the total amount of time spend at spooky underground locations.

  1. Play it Safe

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Most people travel alone at these times, especially after work. Whenever you are alone, in order to feel and be safer, choose the busiest entrances and exits at the busiest stations. When you are on the platform and waiting, never go too far.

The only thing you can find is bad smells and unpleasant scenes. Stay among other passengers and wait with them. Listen to the warnings and notices form the speakers, and pay attention to any signs. Choose the busiest wagon you can find when the train arrives, because it is highly unlikely for something to happen around tons of people.

  1. Know where to Sit

When it comes to sitting, it is best to choose the first car of the train, right behind the train operator. There are usually more people in those cars anyway, and it is always the closest to the exits. Middle cars are also good because that is where the conductor usually sits. Empty cars are the worst if you are feeling scared and lonely, and there is nobody else to assist you in case there is trouble.

  1. Be Aware of your Surroundings

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We all love our phones and headphones, but they keep us from being aware of our environment. In places that are dangerous or have a reputation, all of our senses have to be aware, so leave your headphones in your pocket or listen at a very low volume.

Make sure you are aware of your surroundings when traveling around town late at night in order not to miss announcements and stay alert. You can read or scroll through the phone and stay awake at all times. Follow these tips, and you will always feel safer while on the NYC subway.