NYC’s Subway Screen Network Steadily Battered By Vandalism
April 20, 2023 by Dave Haynes
Photo credit: Fractenberg/The City
Digital displays running everything from public information to advertising are having a rough ride on New York’s sprawling subway system – with 100s of LCD screens vandalized in just the past two and a half years.
There is so much vandalism – from graffiti to shattered glass and damaged vending machines – that the transit authority (MTA) keeps a steadily updated statistics page online, breaking down incidents to time periods and categories.
The NYC-focused online publication The City tallied the numbers and reports that “more than 2,000 train windows and platform liquid-crystal displays have been shattered in the subway since August 2020 — accounting for more than a third of all transit vandalism, MTA statistics show.”
According to agency data, there were 1,415 instances of broken glass on trains and 628 cracked liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens over the last two-and-a-half years, trailing only the 3,014 times trains were tagged with graffiti.
The tally shows just three broken screens in the most recently weekly count, but just over a year ago there were weekly damage counts as high as 28 units.
The MTA, reports The City, has declined to put a dollar figure on the damage, but it would be very costly between equipment replacement costs, shipping and installation labor. It’s not clear if the MTA is solely responsible for repairs and replacements or if Outfront, the media company that has the digital network deal with the MTA, is also on the hook.
The damage is being mainly attributed to people with mental health issues. “It’s primarily the EDPs [emotionally disturbed people] who are doing this,” Robert Kelley, a vice president with Transport Workers Union Local 100 told THE CITY. “It raises great concerns with the customers that people are vandalizing their stations.”