NEW YORK (PIX11) — Three people have died on New York City public transit in the last ten days.
In the last 24 hours, a man was stabbed to death on a Bronx bus, a woman was attacked inside a Harlem subway station and a man was stabbed on a Q train near Greenwich Village.
If you ask longtime New Yorkers, many will insist that transit is more dangerous now than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It’s worse than it ever was, yes it is,” said lifelong New York City resident Theresa Davis.
But, is that actually true?
“In terms of sheer numbers, we are very much different than what occurred decades past,” said Dr. Keith Taylor, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who worked 23 years in the NYPD.
In 1997, NYPD crime data shows there were 4,010 total major transit felonies. In 2022 so far, there are 1,507.
“Our subway system is absolutely safer than it was in the early 1980s and 1990s, but there’s the trend of more crimes occurring in the subway system,” Taylor said. “It’s very real, and it is something that people are rightfully concerned about.”
Transit crime is up nearly 42% so far this year, compared to last year.
It’s still a far cry from the crime of the 1980s and 1990s, but Taylor said the numbers mean nothing if you are constantly exposed to video of subway crimes.
“That access to information about crime and about the victims that exists, it does, I think, have a serious effect on the general public,” Taylor said.
And, he says decreased ridership due to the pandemic doesn’t help. “Generally speaking, the less you have riding, the more crimes occur,” Taylor said.
Other criminal justice experts told PIX11 News that increased reporting of subway crimes also makes them seem more pervasive, and perception equals reality. MTA CEO Janno Lieber acknowledged that, too.
“The number of subway crimes is relatively low, but because everyone has to use the mass transit system, it has such a huge impact on everyone’s sense of safety,” Leiber said. “We have to make it safer on the statistics but also feel safer, and I’m counting on the NYPD to get that done.”