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LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — New York City Transit is the MTA agency that operates subways and buses. Its new president made his first public appearance on Tuesday, in a question and answer session with media.

But just as important were questions from subway and bus riders for Richard Davey, the new NYCT president.

“Is he riding the trains?” asked one straphanger when PIX11 News asked riders what they’d want to find out from Davey. At a news conference with media later in the day, one of Davey’s first comments showed that the answer to that question is “yes.”

“On my ride this morning, I took the 1 down here,” Davey said.

He not only rides trains and buses, he does so almost exclusively. He hasn’t owned a car for 12 years, and has been automobile free in a city with less public transit than the New York City region: Boston.

The rest of his comment, though, reflected a significant concern on the minds of straphangers interviewed by PIX11.

After he’d boarded the train on his Tuesday morning commute, Davey said he saw two cops get on board.

Transit crime is up nearly 21 percent in the last week, according to NYPD crime statistics. Among the highest profile transit crimes in recent days was a slashing on Tuesday morning at the Wall Street 4 train station; also, a man was stabbed in the back last Saturday; a machete attack took place at Penn Station a week ago, as well.

Police have also recently released information about a robbery at gunpoint in order to get $19 from a woman subway passenger, as well as a brass knuckle attack on an unsuspecting middle schooler, carried out by a man on the train. Both of those crimes happened on the subway last month.

Over the course of the last 28 days, transit crime is up 64%, according to the NYPD, and year to date, there’s been a more than 70% rise. Also, transit advocates and riders alike said that dealing with homelessness and mental illness among people on public transit is something they want the new NYCT president to prioritize.

“If we don’t get them safe now,” said Christopher Greif, a member of the New York City Transit Riders Council, “it’s gonna get worse.”

Davey agreed at his news conference, saying that public transit is part of the “public square.”

“Whatever’s happening out in the public spills into the subway,” he explained. “Crime, homelessness and addiction, we need to bring those issues to light, and help these folks.”

He added that crime also needs to be handled, saying that people on public transit need to be arrested “if they do bad things.”

Davey’s term begins on May 2. The former had of the Massachusetts Bay Area Transit Authority and traffic issues consultant said that he intends to emphasize three things during his tenure: “safety and security … reliability and cleanliness.”

Currently, Davey is working as a consultant and has worked with the Washington, D.C. transit system and has advised NYC Transit on the subway action plans. He lived in New York City before in the early 2000s, including before and after September 11th.

Correction: This post was updated to correctly reflect Christopher Greif’s role in the New York City Transit Riders Council.