When WNYC and The Record published their in-depth examination of New Jersey Transit’s failures leading up to Hurricane Sandy, one aspect of their story seemed like a bad joke. In response to a FOIA request for the agency’s storm preparedness plans, NJ Transit had released a four-page memo, all of which had been redacted. It harkened back to an old Onion story, and The Record had filed suit to gain access to the documents.
Today, facing pressure from lawmakers and that lawsuit, NJ Transit released a less redacted version of their storm plans, and unsurprisingly, the document is light on details. Whereas the MTA keeps five three-inch binders worth of materials, New Jersey Transit’s plan is four pages long and offers mainly boilerplate warnings. It urges crews to keep trains out of flood-prone areas without divulging what those areas are and features timelines that many NJ Transit officials admit aren’t sufficient.
Karen Rouse has more:
Details in the plan are sparse and offer little explanation as to why so much of the fleet was left in low-lying areas. The plan does not specify an estimated number of locomotives and railcars that need to be moved to higher ground; system locations that need to be sandbagged; or the impact a storm could have on the shutdown. Such details, however, are in a hurricane plan released by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The NJ Transit plan includes language similar to what the agency used in its pre-Sandy press releases. It says that an orderly shutdown will ensure customers and employees are not at risk, cites the need to protect rolling stock and infrastructure from flooding, and warns that the agency should not announce to the public a date for service resumption until after inspections are completed.
But in contrast to press releases and statements from agency officials following Sandy — which told the public a minimum of 12 hours is needed to shut down the system — the plan says “the actual suspension of service” is triggered “at least 8 hours prior to the storm impacting the state.”
Rail operations Vice President Kevin O’Connor, however, has said that it is not possible to move the fleet in less than 12 hours. “Having a plan to remove the equipment is not possible in 12 hours,” he said in an interview last week. “There is no way I can move every piece of equipment out of the MMC [Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny] in 12 hours.”
A full copy of the plan, courtesy of Transportation Nation’s coverage, is embedded at the end of this post.
What we’re left with though is a confounding conclusion: New Jersey Transit lived through Hurricane Irene; it witnessed the MTA implement its own storm preparedness efforts; and it did the bare minimum to protect its key assets. Nothing that’s come out has made me reassess my view that NJ Transit’s response to Sandy was an absolute failure in leadership. That no one has been held responsible is a real insult to the 940,000 people who use the system every day.
As New York City works to recover from the lingering impact of Sandy, the headlining news from the MTA on Thursday was largely positive. A train service to the Rockaways will return on May 30, nearly a month ahead of schedule, and the subway system will again be complete. But it’s a superficial completeness as the damage from the storm and its surge will make its presence felt for months and years to come.
In conjunction with the good news about the A train, the MTA yesterday delivered a press briefing with the bad news. I didn’t have a chance to attend the briefing, but Matt Flegenheimer of The Times did. He shares the news:
Inside a crew room at the new South Ferry subway station, once flooded wall to wall with the waters of Hurricane Sandy, transit officials on Thursday offered a sobering progress report on a system that continues to feel the storm’s effects. Emergency repairs have proliferated. Exposure to saltwater accelerated the corrosion for many metallic parts, and reduced the useful life of equipment like cloth cable sheathings. Last month, a pump discharge line in the Canarsie tube, where the L train operates, ruptured under normal loads — residual evidence of the storm’s excessive stress on the system, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
And if a hurricane were to approach the city in the immediate term, the agency’s best option for fortifying stations would most likely be the same: sandbags, plywood, and the hope that water would not find a way through. “It’s sunny outside. it’s warm,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s interim executive director and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s nominee to be chairman. “We’re about a month away from the start of another hurricane season.”
The authority said it was devising plans to protect itself against storms as powerful as a Category 2 hurricane, adding that officials would study whether it was possible to protect against Category 3 or Category 4 storms…Mr. Prendergast suggested that aboveground floodwall panels, to be placed over station stairwells or sidewalk vents, were seen as a leading option to protect the system. But he cautioned that these additions were unlikely to arrive for the start of the next hurricane season, leaving the authority with little choice but to rely on sandbags and plywood. “By and large, it worked very effectively,” he said of the low-tech remedies. “But we can do better.”
Even as Prendergast tries to put a positive spin on things, the fact remains that key points in the system — underwater tunnels between the boroughs — remain vulnerable to flooding and seriously damaged. The pump in the Canarsie Tube burst last month, and I’ve heard rumors of long-term saltwater damage in both the Montague St. Tunnel and the Greenpoint Tube that could require extensive repairs and service outages down the road.
In the materials accompanying the briefing, the MTA announced a variety of efforts. In addition to the new Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division I discussed yesterday, plans include tunnel repair work, pump room and pump capacity augmentation; and flood mitigation and prevention efforts focused around vulnerable stations in Lower Manhattan and car yards in low-lying areas. Still, the challenges are extreme, and the MTA has to prepare for the worst. As the materials detail, for instance, the Montague St. Tunnel would fill with water in 30 minutes if flood levels reached just over five feet, and a Category 2 hurricane could lead to a storm surge of up to 16 feet.
Over the next six months, as hurricane season unfolds, the city’s transit network will remain vulnerable. It’s still recovering from last year’s storm and can ill afford another direct hit. Until these measures are in place, we’ll be relying on sandbags, plywood and some dumb luck while we hold our breaths and hope for the best.
The MTA twitter account broke the news first, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office put out the press release trumpeting the return of full A train service to the Rockaways a full month early. A train service across Broad Channel and into the Rockaways will begin again on Thursday, May 30, seven months since Sandy swept away the subway tracks and just in time for the summer beach season.
As part of the restoration efforts, the MTA had to rebuild 1500 feet of washed-out tracks, replace miles of signal, power and communications wires, and rehab two stations that were completely flooded by the storm surge. Additionally, crews buried a two-mile-long corrugated marine steel sheet wall 30 feet into the soil along Jamaica Bay to “to protect the track against future washouts and ensure the line is ready to handle future coastal storms.” (For more on what the MTA had to do to repair the damage, check out this laundry list of projects complete with photos.)
“Superstorm Sandy devastated the entire MTA network like no other storm, but the MTA did a remarkable job of restoring service following the storm and at the end of this month, the A line in the Rockaways will be up and running,” Governor Cuomo said. “The last six months have meant substantial cleanup and repair, leading to the rapid restoration of full service in all but the hardest-hit facilities. Now we must focus on the priority and challenge of making permanent repairs to keep the subways safe and reliable for years to come because the people and businesses of New York depend on a strong and robust mass transit system. The difficult work of rebuilding the system to be stronger and more resilient has just begun, but we will build back better and smarter than before.”
The surprise announcement, nearly a month early, came as the MTA unveiled a series of flood-mitigation measures. The agency demonstrated an inflatable tunnel plug near South Ferry and plans to implement these plugs at vulnerable spots throughout the system. Additionally, Cuomo and the MTA announced a Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Division which will manage the years-long, billion-dollar recovery effort. This new division will oversee efforts to protect stations, fan plants, under-river tubes, tunnels, ground-level tracks, signals, train shops and yards, traction power substations, circuit breaker houses, bus depots, train towers and public areas vulnerable to flooding. The first assessments are due in July.
For the MTA and, more importantly, the Rockaways, this announcement is a major milestone in the Sandy recovery efforts. One of the hardest hit areas is going to see its subway line reconnected to the rest of the system, and the only remaining outage is centered around the new South Ferry station. Still, from what I’ve heard, repair efforts will be extensive and may include some long-term service outages in some of the more badly damaged tunnels. The MTA has not yet commented (or firmly established) these plans.
Early last week, a Port Authority twitter accounted trumped the installation of the first above-grade part of the Calatrava PATH Hub. For the Port Authority and Lower Manhattan, it was a big moment. In fits and starts, the Hub has taken shape, and even though it won’t open for a few years, it’s finally getting somewhere. It’s an occasion worth celebrating, but perhaps a tepid celebration is in order.
Over the years, I’ve written skeptically about PATH’s new World Trade Center hub. It is a $3.7 billion monument to Santiago Calatrava that does little to advance transit access to Lower Manhattan. It doesn’t offer added capacity; it doesn’t expand PATH’s reach. It is, in essence, the world’s most expensive subway stop.
It’s almost flippant to refer to the PATH hub as an overpriced subway terminal even if that’s what it is because the expense and construction time have had a very negative impact on Port Authority’s other transit-related projects. With so much money sunk into the PATH station, other efforts have taken second stage, but until recently, we haven’t had a good grasp on the extent of the situation. That changed this week when Stephen J. Smith published an in-depth look at the PATH hub. He is, as expected, very critical of the entire project, and I will excerpt liberally.
We start with its cost and origins:
When the grandiose ambitions and the emotions of 9/11 met with the famously flush Port Authority, disaster struck. Mission creep, an inattentive governor and extreme politicization sent costs skyward, eventually outstripping even the record-setting resources devoted to it. Its wings had to be stilled and its supports thickened, the bird in flight devolving into an immobilized stegosaurus. The world’s most expensive train station, it seems, was not expensive enough to contain all of New York’s dreams.
For nearly $4 billion, most cities could build entire subway lines. Even the MTA, which frequently breaks cost records of its own, managed to build its Fulton Center hub, a renovation of five densely tangled lines, for $1.4 billion. Nobody’s subway tunnels cost more than the MTA’s, but even they could fund most of the second phase of the Second Avenue subway, from 96th Street to 125th, with that kind of cash.
The World Trade Center PATH station is actually not a particularly busy one. “No one intelligently could say that the level of design and architecture associated with it was commensurate with the level of usage,” said one former commissioner. (Like nearly everyone we interviewed for this story, he would only speak on the condition of anonymity.)
To make matters worse, the World Trade Center station doesn’t draw the traffic to warrant the expense. It is the city’s tenth busiest subway stop when stacked against the MTA’s own ridership, and no one is advocating for a $3 billion station at Lexington Ave. and 53rd St.
Beyond that, Smith tells the story of its funding: When originally proposed by Calatrava, the $1.9 billion price tag was a red herring. Port Authority and the feds came to terms on the grant before anyone knew how much the full project would cost, and the various stakeholders took advantage of the uncertainty. Site foundation costs are baked into the PATH Hub costs, and a lot of common infrastructure costs eventually foisted onto Port Authority “might not have passed the FTA’s muster,” Smith explains.
Port Authority had a chance to reign in costs. One of its heads, appointed by Eliot Spitzer, vowed to cap spending at $2.5 billion and had a plan that eliminated many superfluous elements to keep costs down. But, as with many transit expansion efforts in New York, this one too fell by the wayside when Spitzer resigned in the wake of his sex scandal. Chris Ward, Gov. David Paterson’s replacement, wanted to see accomplishments, never mind the costs. So Calatrava’s passageways and wings were retained, and the project marches ever onward as it becomes the world’s most expensive subway stop.
Are there lessons we can take from this? Of course, there are, but it’s not really about Albany oversight or better control over Port Authority’s purse strings. Rather, it’s a lesson that should unfold a few miles north at the site of what is currently Madison Square Garden. Pending a City Council vote, various city stakeholders seem serious about the opportunity to do something about Penn Station and MSG, and, for better or worse, that something will involve a new station house.
The mistakes of the World Trade Center Hub should not be repeated at Penn Station. If the city overhauls Penn Station, transit expansion should trump a fancy building designed by a big-name architect who wants to leave his mark on New York. We’ve spent far too much on buildings that do far too little to improve the region’s mobility problems, and that time should end. If we learn one thing from the PATH debacle, it should be that.
When the MTA wraps up the East Side Access project sometime ever, the Long Island Rail Road will be able to offer more train service into Manhattan, and more train service into Manhattan via the tracks that have fueled decades of growth on Long Island is never a bad thin — unless, of course, you are afraid. “Afraid of what?” you may ask. Afraid, the answer is, of unsightly train cars displacing scenic and landscape-enhancing parking spaces.
The story goes like this: When ESA is finished, the MTA will expand service offerings along the LIRR’s Port Washington branch. More service, however, means more train cars, and more train cars requires more storage space. The current plan is to extend the tracks at Port Washington to allow for storage for 18 additional train cars, but some folks in North Hempstead don’t like this plan, Newsday’s Jennifer Barrios reports today.
The LIRR is considering two options for extending two tracks at the station, [LIRR chief planning officer Elisa] Picca said. Its preferred option requires it to purchase an 18-by-439-foot parcel in a parking lot owned by North Hempstead off South Bayles Avenue. That plan would remove 40 parking spaces from the lot, she said, adding that re-striping the existing lot could replace the 40 spaces. The alternate plan involves putting the track extensions in part of a parking lot the LIRR already owns along Haven Avenue. That would result in the loss of 140 parking spaces, but could be completed without the cooperation of the town…
Last month, LIRR officials met with town officials, including Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio. De Giorgio, a Republican who announced her bid for supervisor last month, said the proposals amount to creating an unsightly storage yard in Port Washington. “The idea of storing these massive trains, adding two storage tracks to Port Washington, will completely ruin the character of the town,” she said. “This is creating a train depot in Port Washington.”
…Mitch Schwartz, co-president of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, said his primary concern is parking in an area where parking is already notoriously tight. “If we’re going to give up even 40, there’s got to be a compelling reason, something on the other side that is going to get us better service,” Schwartz said. “I’m not convinced at this point.”
So the head of the Chamber of Commerce can’t see the obvious benefit of added train service, and a candidate for town supervisor thinks that storing two trains will ruin the character more than storing a bunch of inert cars already does. These are NIMBY arguments community leaders and elected representatives make to the media with a straight face. Aren’t you tempted to say, “If North Hempstead doesn’t want train service, let’s not give it to them”? Because I am.
New York City Transit’s Graphics Standards Manual, designed by Massimo Vignelli and his team at Unimark International in 1970, stands the test of time as the paragon of sign design in the city’s subways. Over the years, the rout-indicator bullet colors have been unified, and the double letters and confusing QJ and QB designations have been simplified. But absent a switch in letter coloring from black-on-white to white-on-black, Vignelli’s signs have withstood the test of time as the key wayfinding elements underground.
The system doesn’t always work properly. I’ve been critical of the information presented on signs discussing divergent routes. It takes some base level of knowledge, for instance, to understand the way the B and D run after crossing the Manhattan Bridge and what service patterns are like once the B stops running but the D doesn’t stop at DeKalb Ave. Additionally, some of the MTA’s later additions not included in Vignelli’s manual are flat-out ungainly. The signs that shorten platform to “plat” are among the worst around.
Still, Vigenlli’s philosophy survives the test of time because of its simplicity. Whereas his subway map oversimplified New York City and the subway schematic, his signs present information riders need when they need it, not before and not after. To understand how this works, point your favorite web browser over to TheStandardManual.com. A few enterprising designers — all associated with Pentagram Designs — have published high-res photos of each page of The Standards Manual, and it gives the design-obsessed among us a chance to delve into the history of signage. Before Vignelli, it was a mess; after, it’s a unified system of generally clear signage.
My favorite page, almost obvious in its simplicity, concerns the placement of signs within a station. It’s something we take for granted now, but Vignelli’s instructions set the tone. “This diagram,” reads Page 2 of the manual, “explains the sequence of information to the rider. It is a branching system that will lead him to his destination as directly as possible. The basic concept of this branching system is that the subway rider should be given only information at the point of decision. Never before. Never after.”
With that in mind, take a look around your favorite station complex. The sign philosophy is best illustrated by a stroll around Times Square, and I’ve noticed that some signs are superfluous or beyond the decision point. That’s likely a result of years of modifications to the stations and signs that wind up in awkward or useless locations. (A sign hung behind a light at Atlantic Ave. comes to mind. It has been re-hung since I snapped a photo of it eight months ago.)
The rest of the Graphics Standards Manual is worth a perusal as well. Vignelli and Unimark discuss the modular design, the proper amount of information to put on a sign, and the process for deviating from standards. Over the decades, many elements of Transit’s public presentation have changed: The subway map looks radically different today than it did in 1972; we use Metrocards and not tokens; subway cars all feature LED route bullets without the distinctive colors on the front. And yet the signs remain. Idiosyncrasies and all, they must be doing something right.
In my review of WNYC’s reporting on NJ Transit’s response to Sandy, I noted how the transit agency had offered up four redacted pages as an overview of their storm preparedness efforts but neglected to mention the ramifications of the document. The WNYC report was but one half of a two-headed effort with The Record of Bergen County to tackle the story, and Karen Rouse has details on the dispute over the document in her piece in the paper.
According to her reporting, New Jersey Transit refuses to share the four-page document and hundreds of emails due to safety concerns. “Recent events including the uncovering of an al-Qaida-led terrorist plot targeting rail service reinforces why NJ Transit will not disclose sensitive information |that could potentially undermine the security of our transit infrastructure, our customers or our employees,” John Durso Jr., a spokesman for NJ Transit, said to The Record.
The Record has filed suit over the redacted and omitted documents, and they are essentially requesting what I said should be requested of NJ Transit. As Rouse writes, they asked for “details about whether NJ Transit had identified locations in its statewide rail network that were at risk for flooding prior to Sandy; whether rail crews were on duty and prepared for Sandy prior to its surge making landfall; and if NJ Transit police officers assigned to its Office of Emergency Management were trained in reading weather forecast data.” The MTA, also vulnerable to terrorist threats, could provide this information readily; New Jersey Transit opted not to. What are they hiding?
Since Superstorm Sandy swept through the region in November, I’ve followed the story of New Jersey Transit’s utterly inept reply very closely. The agency suffered $450 million worth of damage to its rolling stock because it made many mistakes including erroneous modeling and the ignominious decision to ignore a report on vulnerabilities which led agency officials to move trains to vulnerable areas. No one has been fired yet.
Now, though, we have the ultimate tale in this saga as WNYC’s Kate Hinds and Andrea Bernstein have put together a comprehensive look at New Jersey Transit’s response. Their piece compares NJ Transit’s actions with those from the MTA, and the Garden State’s rail agency does not come out looking prepared or knowledgeable. It remains a stunning gap in leadership that has gone unpunished in the intervening months.
Throughout the piece, Hinds and Bernstein tackle some familiar territory. The two reporters focus on how NJ Transit used models with incorrect data inputs that led them to think vulnerable areas were safe. They track how officials ignored dire warnings relating to flood zones and rising tides. They touch upon the excuses officials have put forward and the lack of responsibility assumed by anyone in the storm’s aftermath, but as an exercise in synthesis, it tells a very damning story.
“The fate of NJ Transit’s trains – over a quarter of the agency’s fleet – didn’t just hang on one set of wrong inputs,” the two write. “It followed years of missed warnings, failures to plan, and lack of coordination under Governor Chris Christie, who has expressed ambivalence about preparing for climate change while repeatedly warning New Jerseyans not to underestimate the dangers of severe storms.”
When compared with the MTA’s uber-preparedness in the aftermath of both a crushing summer rain storm in 2007 and Hurricane Irene in 2011, NJ Transit’s response is even more bewildering. The trouble started at the top, and even as Andrew Cuomo and Joe Lhota stayed in close contact, Chris Christie and Jim Weinstein did not. Meanwhile, Hinds and Bernstein offer us more details on the reports NJ Transit commissioned and ignored:
In 2010, David Gillespie, the agency’s Director of Energy and Sustainability, rustled up funding for his own study: “Resilience of NJ Transit Assets to Climate Impacts.” The report was commissioned, Gillespie explained in a presentation to planners in March 2012, to help him sort through a pile of literature that he described as “two-and-a-half feet high.”
The report, prepared by First Environment of Boonton, NJ, also did not mince words. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” it said. And, on page three, it referenced the “Flooded Bus Barns” report, emphasizing that “NJ Transit is already experiencing many of the climate impacts (flooding, excessive heat, larger storms) that are expected to occur in the Northeast over the next 20 years.”
The report specifically did not include recommendations for how to handle train cars. “The mitigation plan we have for moveable assets – our rolling stock – is we move it out of harm’s way when something’s coming,” Gillespie said in his presentation. Still, the report suggested the Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC), located on dozens of acres in Kearny and positioned between the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers — might have actually been in harms way in a “storm surge area.”
Gillespie gave several presentations of the report at professional conferences. He shared the report with counterparts at other transit agencies and with the Federal Transit Administration. But, requests under New Jersey’s Open Public Records act for all of Gillespie’s emails referring to climate change (which filled an entire box) unearthed no evidence he sounded alarms at NJ Transit about the report, or that he even delivered it to the rail operations team.
The reporting then moves to focus on how NJ Transit ignored week-of forecasts as well:
In the days leading up to Sandy, NJ Transit was at the receiving end of a series of increasingly chilling reports from the National Weather Service that warned of record storm tides of up to 15 feet. “Very Dangerous Hurricane Sandy,” read the briefing issued Sunday, October 28. It contained a personal plea from Szatkowski to take the storm seriously. “If you think this storm is over-hyped and exaggerated, please err on the side of caution,” [National Weather Service's Gary] Szatkowski wrote to the agency. That kind of warning “never happens,” he later told WNYC.
New Jersey’s state climatologist, David Robinson, told a panel at a January transportation conference that the forecasting was “brilliant.” “Sandy hadn’t even formed yet,” he said, “and models were showing a major storm.… We had plenty of warning.”
But despite this, NJ Transit was not prepared for the storm surge that swept in and engulfed its yards. Weinstein maintains he was at the yards at around five p.m. on Monday evening when the storm was on its way. “There was no flooding, no indication of flooding. The elevation is about 10 feet. A storm surge of six feet reinforces what we are telling you.”
But the prediction was for up to 15 feet, and even at low probabilities, Szatkowski says those numbers “convey huge, dangerous risk to both life & property.… Based on an analysis, if there was a 10 percent risk of a particular bridge collapsing over the next 72 hours, would that be deemed an acceptable risk? I don’t think so. A 10 percent risk of a catastrophe is huge.”
The real kicker though comes in the documentation. The MTA has publicly released hundreds of pages of documents concerning storm preparedness efforts. New Jersey Transit’s response to a FOIA request for its rail operations hurricane plan was a four-page document in which every single word was redacted. Did they even have a plan or did they just black out four pages to make it seem like their super-secret (and seemingly inept) plan can’t be revealed to the public?
It’s been nearly seven months since Sandy, and the same people are still in charge in New Jersey. We’ve heard story after story highlighting the poor responses, the bad decisions and the misinformed officials, and yet no one has been fired. Does Chris Christie have such a low regard for New Jersey Transit? Is he concerned that admitting an error in hurricane response will hurt his national image? Is everyone willfully ignoring what happened? Now that we know the story from Sandy, these questions demand answers.
For the better part of a 50 years, a pedestrian bridge has spanned Surf Ave. near West 8th St. in Coney Island, delivering subway passengers from the station to the boardwalk and aquarium. That bridge, according to a report in The Brooklyn Paper, is set to come down later this year.
Will Bredderman has the story:
Citing safety concerns and the structure’s unsightliness, the New York City Economic Development Corporation — the agency responsible for promoting business and tourism — plans to dismantle the walkway over Surf Avenue and the New York Aquarium parking lot at a yet-to-be-unspecified date this summer. An agency spokesman called the half-century-old bridge an eyesore, and said that it was likely to become unstable in the next few years.
In an effort to keep crossing Surf Avenue easy, the spokesman said that the city will broaden the sidewalks, install a crossing light at the intersection of W. Eighth Street, and create a new entrance to the Boardwalk at W. 10th Street.
Community Board 13 district manager Chuck Reichenthal applauded the news, saying that the neighborhood panel has begged the city for years to tear down the deteriorating walkway. The bridge — originally built 50 years ago to convey people from the F-Q stop to the then-new aquarium — has long been an orphan, with the MTA, the aquarium, and the Parks Department all denying responsibility for maintaining it.
Despite objections by local advocates that the bridge keeps “children and the elderly out of danger while crossing busy Surf Avenue,” wider sidewalks and a crossing light are a far better way to create a vibrant pedestrian-focused area than a bridge is, and daylighting the street underneath will help as well. The fish, albeit rusty, were always a kitschy cute touch.
As part of its ongoing look at anxiety and the way we live, The New York Times has published a piece by Kimberly Matus about being a subway groping victim, and it is a must-read for New Yorkers. While the focus on underground crime tends to coalesce around reported thefts of electronics and handheld devices, groping is a far bigger concern for many law enforcement officials as these crimes are rampant and often go unreported.
Matus, in her piece, discusses her experiences on a very crowded train, how undercover officers spotted the groping and were able to arrest the perp and how the incident left her fearful of future subway rides. It’s not always as clean and simple as that. From those who flash women in the subways to lewd comments to inappropriate touching, this behavior is rampant and unacceptable. It can lead to concerns over personal safety and fears over riding the subway. Absent an aggressive targeted campaign of enforcement efforts, the subways remain a hotbed for these types of sexual assaults. [The New York Times]