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Is The NYC Subway Safe At Night In 2024? Safety Guide

If you’re going to be traveling around New York at night then it’s a good idea to be aware of your transport options.

This ultimate guide tells you everything you need to know about subway safety including if the NYC subway is safe at night.

Is the New York Subway Safe at Night?

Yes, the NYC subway is safe to use at night. Although it’s usually extremely safe, crime does still occur from time to time. The most common forms of crime are pickpocketing and harassment.

As New York is a 24-hour city, it’s busy at all times of day and night. 

When riding the subway, you’ll be surprised at how many people are waiting for the same train as you, even at 4am in the morning.

You’ll almost never be alone when taking the subway, even in the middle of the night.

As with any city, safety is in numbers. Crime rarely occurs in busy areas where there are lots of people so you’ll generally be safe on the subway, even at night.

Certain stations are busy at all hours of the day and night however others are much quieter.

For example, if you’ve just finished a Broadway show in Midtown Manhattan and you’re heading over to the subway with everyone else then you’ll probably be fine.

However if you’ve been chilling at a friend’s house in a quiet suburb and want to get home, you’ll need to be a little more cautious as there won’t be as many people around.

Don’t worry – I list some handy subway safety tips later in the post that will help keep you safe.

Here’s what you can expect when riding New York’s subway after dark:

As you can see, even late at night, the subway is still pretty busy and doesn’t look sketchy at all.

NYC Subway Crime Rates

Crime rates are pretty low on New York’s subways at night but crime does happen from time to time.

The most common form of crime on New York’s subway system is pickpocketing and theft. Thieves tend to target passengers who are asleep or distracted e.g. reading a book. 

Staying alert at all times will prevent most instances of theft. Try not to get too lost in your book or music and keep an eye on your surroundings.

Annoyingly, harassment is still a big issue for women riding the subway and as most of it goes unreported, it isn’t always reflected in crime statistics.

Interestingly, crime rates on the subway are actually highest during the busiest times of the day and are much lower at night.

Despite some instances of crime, taking the subway is still actually one of the safest ways to get around New York at night.

In fact, an article from the New York Post revealed that it’s actually safer to take the subway than a taxi if you’re a woman traveling alone.

Unfortunately, assault and harassment occur more often in taxis than on the subway which is certainly something to consider when planning how you’re going to get home.

Overall, subway crime rates are pretty low. A crime statistics analyst for the NYPD told The Guardian that the chances of being a victim on the NYC subway are one in a million.

He went on to say that the chances of winning the lottery are similar to the chances of being a victim on the subway which hopefully puts your mind at ease a bit.

It’s also much harder to get away with crime on the subway than it is on the streets or in the parks.

There are tons of cameras on all of New York’s subways and it’s harder for a criminal to make an escape on a packed subway train with only a few entrances/exits.

There’s also been some reports of undercover police officers riding the subway cars posing as passengers to help keep people safe.

It’s also worth remembering that everyone uses the subway in New York (and when I say everyone, I mean everyone!).

Whilst it is the most affordable way to get around the city, you’ll find that everyone from fancy business executives to supermodels ride the subway to get around.

Even celebrities are regularly spotted on the subway because it’s just the easiest and most efficient way to get around 

Just Google Mariah Carey, Andrew Garfield, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway on the subway – they all use it!

I mean, who wants to be stuck in a taxi for 40 minutes when the subway can get you there in 10 minutes?

If you need any more convincing that the subway is safe (even at night), here’s what a local New Yorker had to say about subway safety at night:

Screenshot of a comment from a Tripadvisor forum about subway safety at night.
Screenshot of a comment from a Tripadvisor forum about subway safety at night.

Is the Subway Safe at 10pm?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe to use the subway at 10pm.

In New York, 10pm is not that late. In fact, the subways will likely still be really busy and crowded at this time.

Things don’t really start to quieten down in New York until past midnight.

Is the Subway Safe at 5am?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe to use the subway at 5am.

The subway will likely be at its quietest by 5am but that doesn’t mean that it’ll be empty. You’ll probably still be joined by loads of other New Yorkers so you should still feel pretty safe.

One thing to note is that many homeless people use the subways as a place to sleep overnight. 

For example, you may board the subway car and find someone asleep in a sleeping bag on the chairs. It provides a safer (and warmer) environment than the street.

The vast majority of New York’s homeless population are really friendly so you shouldn’t feel any fear if you see these people in the stations or on the subway trains.

From time to time, there are reports of homeless people being aggressive towards other passengers (but this is rare) so keep your guard up just in case.

Most of them won’t bother you at all but I’m sure they’d really appreciate a hot drink or a bite to eat if you have anything to spare.

Is it Safe to Take the Subway at Night Alone?

Yes, it is safe to take the subway at night even if you’re on your own.

Women should take particular caution at night if they’re on their own but it is still safe (follow the safety tips that I list below!).

The subway is still one of the safest ways to get around the city so you don’t need to avoid it. 

Although you might be traveling alone, you almost definitely won’t be the only person in the subway station or on the train.

The NYC subway runs 24/7 and it’s always pretty busy day and night.

NYC Subway Safety Tips

Graphic showing some NYC subway safety tips.
Graphic showing some NYC subway safety tips.

Although taking the NYC subway at night is pretty safe, crime does occur from time to time.

Harassment (usually against women) and theft are the most common forms of crime that occur on the subway.

Here’s some NYC subway safety tips that you can use to keep you safe:

  • Never sit in an empty subway car. Always board a car with plenty of people inside, if there aren’t any then wait for the next train.
  • The busiest cars tend to be at the front of the train. Alternatively, ride in the middle car as this is where the conductor usually rides.
  • Avoid falling asleep as this leaves you vulnerable to an attack.
  • Use the busiest entrances and exits at subway stations. Most subway stations have several entrances/exits, follow the crowd and use the busiest one.
  • When waiting for the train, wait by the station agent. If the station that you’re at is particularly quiet then wait by the turnstiles near the station agent rather than on your own at the end of the platform.
  • If you feel unsafe or get any weird vibes at any point then leave the station.
  • Change cars (or get off the train) if you experience any odd behavior like someone staring at you continuously, a drunk person that’s making you uncomfortable or if someone is screaming or arguing with people.
  • Avoid looking lost (even if you are). Act like you know where you’re going as criminals tend to target vulnerable-looking people.
  • Don’t listen to music or keep the volume low. You need to be aware of your surroundings on the subway so avoid listening to loud music so you can clearly hear what’s going on around you.
  • Keep a hold of all your things like your bag. Don’t just leave them on the floor as someone could grab it and run. Keep your arm through the handle or hold it on your lap.

If you see any strange behavior, aggressive people or people clearly ‘on something’ then I’d recommend changing cars or getting off the subway completely.

Unfortunately you will come across these types of people occasionally and whilst most won’t hurt you, it’s better to be safe.

Here’s the kinds of things I’m talking about…

If you see any behavior like this, my advice is to leave immediately!

And that’s it!

Thanks for reading this post which explains if the subway is safe at night.

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Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir, who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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