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How Bad Is Crime in the Subways?

The health of the subway is crucial to New York’s overall vitality, which makes ensuring that passengers feel safe a top priority for the public officials managing the city’s post-pandemic recovery.

On Wednesday, about a week after a train conductor was slashed across the neck on a southbound A train in Brooklyn, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that she would deploy hundreds of National Guard soldiers and New York State Police officers in the system. They will patrol platforms and help check bags.

Here’s what we know about crime in the subway:

Is crime a problem in the subway?

Although surveys by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority show that many riders feel unsafe, data has not always confirmed the public’s perception.

Crime rates jumped during the pandemic starting in 2020, but the subway became safer last year.

But some riders are still nervous. “Perception becomes reality for people,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the M.T.A.’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, a watchdog group. “If you look at crime reports that numbers are going down, but you hear your neighbors say that they’re afraid to ride, then that becomes your reality.”

In mid-2022, there was about one violent crime per 1 million rides on the subway, according to a New York Times analysis. Since then, the overall crime rate has fallen and ridership has increased, making the likelihood of falling victim to a violent crime even more remote. Last year, overall crime in the transit system fell by nearly 3 percent compared with 2022, as the number of daily riders rose by 14 percent.

The downward trend stalled early this year because of a January jump in major crimes, which subsided in February. Through March 3, there were three homicides in the transit system, compared with one over the same time last year, according to Police Department data. Overall, major crimes — which include felony assaults, burglaries and grand larcenies — have increased by 13 percent so far this year, the data shows.

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