Turning Around New York City Transit Crime
Over the last year, New York City has seen a spike in violent transit crime and disorder, reminiscent of the city’s darker days. Despite ridership hovering at around 30% of 2019 levels, the number of murders in the subways last year was twice that of 2019, and the number of rapes more than doubled. Even with overnight closures, there were nearly 600 robberies on the subway system. Above-ground transit crime spiked too, as bus drivers were punched, spat on, and worse. The homeless and mentally ill have taken up asylum in the transit system, creating an atmosphere of danger, disorder, and filth. There was also a rash of subway pushings—six since New Year's Eve—and random violent attacks. In February, a young man with severe mental illness and a history of arrests for drugs and violence allegedly stabbed four strangers along the A train line, killing two, causing Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to order 500 more cops into the subways.
But what will it take to really turn this downward spiral around? Can it be accomplished with more cops and more attention to minor crimes? Or will a solution require a large-scale change in mental health and criminal justice policies? NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg, local transit union president Tony Utano, and other stakeholders discussed how we arrived at this precarious situation and what it will take to turn it around.