Join Date: September 25, 2008
I hang my head in abject sorrow. As much as I dislike to admit it, I owe Mayor Bloomberg an apology.
I have written, either on this site or on other sites (or both) that it was safer to attend school in the United States during the month of December than it was to ride a NYC subway. I got curious, and decided to look up some numbers to test the validity of my off-the-cuff statement. And ... I blew it.
According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, the NYC subway system delivers 5.3 million rides per weekday, 3.0 million per Saturday, and 2.4 million rides per Sunday. Total that all up by the number of days in December of 2012, and we get 138,300,000 rides. There were two murders-by-subway in December, so the probability of being shoved in front of a train during December was 1:69,150,000
For school populations I turned to the U.S. Census data, and the numbers are for October 2011. Best I could do, but probably close enough for comparison purposes. For pre-school through high school, the census data show a total school population of 58,664,000. I admit, that's a LOT lower than I thought it would be, which is perhaps why I was off the mark. And December was a short month, because schools close from Christmas to new Years. So we only had 15 school days during December, rather than a more normal 20 to 21. 15 x 58,664,000 = 879,960,000 kid-school-days. So if 20 kids were killed, the odds were 879,960,000 / 20 which is 1:43,998,000.
So during December the NYC subways were statistically safer than schools across the United States.
But the subway system runs the same ridership (on average) every month, whereas a typical school month has four weeks of classes rather than three. So if we compare to a typical school month, we then get 1,290,608,000 kid-school-days. Divide that by 20 and the odds for being killed change to 1:64,530,400. That's still slightly worse than the probability of being killed by train shoving in a NYC subway, but not by much. The difference is approximately 6 percent.
Is a 6 percent difference enough to justify the Mayor's claim that our schools are unsafe, but his subways ARE safe? I don't think a 6 percent difference, when you're looking at odds such as those, makes any difference at all. Either both are safe, or neither is safe. Hizzoner can't have it both ways.