By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
Subways are working hard to get back to pre-COVID level ridership and lower crime rates.
In June, ridership on New York City subways increased, and crime in the subway system dropped, as per new data released before this week’s MTA board and committee meetings. There were a total of 111 major felonies committed on subways in June — down from 168 the month before, as per NYPD data. As per the NY Post, crime adjusted for ridership dropped from 2.87 felonies per million riders in May to 1.77 felonies per million riders in June. Last month was the closest subways have come to pre-pandemic crime levels since March 2020. During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, crime rates climbed compared to 2019 levels, when NYPD recorded a much more modest 1.47 felonies per million riders. Felony assaults had jumped at an alarming rate, nearly doubling from April to May, with 37 and 65 reported, respectively.
The surge in crime prompted lower ridership as well as an outcry from transit leaders to add NY police presence underground. On May 17, Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to add 125 extra police officers to the subways during morning and evening rush hours. This addition which came after weeks of pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state-run MTA, prompted improved results in just one week. In early June, NYPD stats showed crime had already dropped. Since then ridership has also increased, rising from 58.4 million subway trips in May, to 65.5 million in June. The figures show significant improvement since last October when ridership was at just 31.1 million trips, while much of NYC remained shuttered due to the pandemic.
MTA officials also did their part, doubling the number of private security guards patrolling the system from 100 to 200 earlier this year. An MTA spokesman also told the Post that there are plans underway to equip every subway station with surveillance cameras by the end of this summer.
“The recent decline in transit crime started in June, following the addition of more than 1,100 NYPD officers to the subway system — which came after months of MTA requests,” the spokesman, Aaron Donovan, said in a statement. “The trend is good news for our riders and is reflective of the MTA’s ‘all of the above’ approach to improving safety and security in the transit system — with additional security personnel, cameras and increased ridership.”