MTA unveils 7 priorities for 2022, says increased NYPD presence helping with crime

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA released its seven top priorities for 2022, including delivering better service and promoting safety and respect.

MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said increased police presence in the subways is working to reduce crime in the public transit system.

"We are no means out of the woods, and there is a lot of progress that needs to be made with subway safety," Lieber said. "I just want to acknowledge the work has begun. Serious effort is underway."

Data shows that crime in the subways is up 75% compared to the same time period last year, but compared to pre-pandemic, major crimes are down by 24%.

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Still, those statistics don't seem to make riders feel any more eager to use the subway.

"Despite seeing cops in certain stations I don't feel as safe," rider Iliana Calderon said.

In 12 hours overnight, NYPD officers found loaded guns on people in two instances while enforcing MTA rules.

One was recovered on a person walking between train cars Tuesday night, while the other fell out of the jacket of a person lying intoxicated on a platform early Wednesday morning.

"There's an incident last night that illustrates that this may be having a positive effect," Lieber said. "At around 8 p.m., transit police officers patrolling the J train saw a man breaking the rules by moving between the cars. That's prohibited because so many people have lost their lives literally falling between the cars. It's a safety rule. He ran. He was apprehended, and they recovered a loaded .22 firearm. that was on the train."

Then there's the quality of the underground system.

"I see too many people sleeping in the train and that's an inconvenience for people," rider Devin Hughes said.

According to the NYPD Transit Department, in the past month, 312 people living in the subway have been relocated to shelters.

And 1,200 summonses have been issued for smoking, 700 for drinking, 500 for obstructing seats.

These crackdowns are meant to make the subway experience more inviting and deter people from committing more serious crimes in the system.

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Lieber says forces outside of the MTA's control are also contributing to crime.

He pointed to the recently opened safe injection site in Washington Heights that he claims is pushing heroin users to the 181st Street Station to shoot up when the facility closes.

"Our customers are letting us know they don't feel safe" Lieber said. "They've read about high profile attacks on our workers. Customers are seeing people breaking our rules of conduct, evading the fare, smoking, lying down across the entire bench, drinking, and they don't feel comfortable."

He said while improvements are being made, there's still more that needs to be done.

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