The “gender-neutral” terms used in greetings will now be “passengers” or “riders” even though the largest majority of people still identify as either female or male.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority that New York City subway lines will immediately phase out the normal salutation in an effort to be “more inclusive”.
The MTA has instructed employees to implement the policy immediately and train conductors have been instructed to override the automated messaging service.
The New York Post reported that he announcement from earlier this week had instructed all NYC Transit staff to use “passengers, riders or everyone”.
A MTA memo on the change warned: “Please don’t use any greeting other than these.”
Not all New York City Twitter subway users welcomed the decision, although Huffington Post called it “some awesome gender-neutral terminology”.
Some social media users wondered why the MTA was ignoring serious issues such as crime, train delays and overcrowding.
‘The #MTA shouldn’t b focusing on gender friendly language. They should be focused on getting those trains running & making the Subway safe,’ one tweeted.
Riders told the Post that they felt less safe on the trains, and often found themselves looking over their shoulders. Francine Portus, 50, from Brooklyn: “It’s not safe riding the subway, but I have to do it because that’s how I get to work.”
According to new NYPD data, felony assaults in the subway system were up 16 percent in February this year compared with the same month last year.
From January through March 2016, assaults on the trains were up 44 percent. NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox noted that the amount of hate-related graffiti has skyrocketed. Users also complained about the frequent delays and many equipment failures, with trains that are breaking down at a much higher rate than in the past.
Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican candidate for NYC mayor, says the number of sex crimes on the subway has increased since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014.
“People are packed in like sardines,” Malliotakis said in a new television ad, “and subway sex crimes are up over 50 percent.”
Some 941 sex crimes were reported on the New York City subway system in 2016, according to a NYPD report.
The Lexington Avenue line is almost never on time, especially during rush hour, leading to dozens of trains being cancelled daily, while affecting tens of thousands of riders, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
In July, London transportation made a similar move and eliminated gendered greetings from the London Tube’s announcements. “We want everyone to feel welcome on our transport network,” Mark Evers, director of customer strategy at Transport for London, said about the change.