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NYC subways are a frustrating mess, but are they more dangerous?

New York City subways seem to be less efficient and more chaotic than ever, with many riders reporting more service delays and mishaps than they've seen in years. With frequent problems ranging from power outages to a huge dust cloud at the 72nd Street 1/2/3 station, the MTA seems to be unable to stop the frustration and wasted time that so many commuters experience each day.

According to statistics from the city's Independent Budget Office, inefficiency (as measured by lost rider time) has been increasing every year since 2012, according to the New York Daily News. But does this annoyance, which can cost riders lost work time and cause other difficulties, translate into a more dangerous subway system? Have accidents, injuries and deaths gone up or down recently?

The type, frequency and severity of subway injuries

Many types of injuries occur in the subways. Some are caused by falls, some are self-inflicted and others involve assaults and other crimes. Usually the most serious injuries are caused by moving trains. Some statistics indicate that the subways have not become more dangerous with regard to fatalities.

According to DNAinfo.com, the MTA released its 2016 stats about serious injuries occurring within the subway system, including the following numbers:

  • In 2016, 168 people were hit by trains; in 2015, there were 172 incidents.
  • In 2016, subway fatalities (from being hit by a train) were the lowest in five years, though the drop was not a significant one. In total, 48 people were killed by a train in 2016. 
  • In 2016, slightly fewer people were struck by a train on a platform than in the previous year (71, compared to 75 in 2015).

The odds may be in your favor

The MTA also stated that its 2016 annual subway ridership exceeded 1.7 billion. With that figure in mind, your chances of being struck by a train or killed in the subway system are relatively low -- approximately 35 million to 1. While this is much lower than the odds of you getting angry about yet another delay, safety remains an important consideration for riders.

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