MTA in peril as New York City subway crime rate spikes, ridership plummets

NEW YORK CITY -- A spike in crime rates on the New York City subway system combined with the coronavirus pandemic decimating ridership has the MTA worried on top of the financial crisis the agency is already facing.

Many straphangers say a notable NYPD presence in the subway system has been lacking, and at the height of lockdown, the system was flooded by homeless.

"I only take the train if I'm going to work, so in the mornings, I rarely see them," one rider said. "Sometimes I do. It's rare."

Related: MTA outlines 'draconian' cuts without $12 billion in federal aid

There were 110 felonies in the subway system in August, fewer than during the same month last year in terms of raw numbers. But it represents a higher percentage, however, given the vastly reduced ridership because of COVID-19.

The number of arrests and summonses issued has dropped, all contributing to a sense of unease.

"Maybe like a month ago, there was barely any people, so anything can happen when there's no people around," another rider said. "That gives you a little eeriness feeling."

Related: MTA in worse shape than during the Great Depression, officials say

With ridership only at 25% and the MTA facing a huge budget deficit, the agency is asking Congress for $12 billion in federal aid.

While the MTA says it doesn't have empirical data that shows safety concerns are keeping riders away, officials acknowledge less serious quality of life issues are a factor.

"That's like vandalism, that's like employee assaults, that's people breaking the rules like laying out, spitting, relieving themselves, smoking, things like that inside the system," MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said. "We do not want that, especially during the pandemic, but any time."

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