Subway crime still outpacing ridership despite drop in March

Subway crime rates dropped in March compared to the previous month, according to newly-released NYPD stats — but remain far higher than where they stood pre-pandemic.

The subways saw 2.32 felony crimes per million riders in March 2021 — compared to 2.65 felonies per million riders the previous month and a comparatively puny 1.47 crimes per million riders across the year 2019.

Last month’s 118 major felonies in the subway system were 32.6 percent fewer than the 175 that recorded in March 2020 — half of which the city spent under COVID-19 lockdown, according to stats prepared for Wednesday’s upcoming MTA board meeting.

Major felonies — murder, rape, robbery, larceny, assault and burglary — are down 53.1 percent year-over-year, NYPD said.

But the drop in crime is outpaced by depressed ridership, which averaged around 67 percent below pre-pandemic levels through the first three months of 2021.

The subways saw 2.12 major felonies per million riders in February 2020, the last “normal” month on record.

Felony assaults, meanwhile, have actually jumped since last year — up to 40 last month compared to 30 the previous March. Assaults have jumped 8.2 percent on the year, according to NYPD stats.

Girl stabbed in Brooklyn subway.
A 14-year-old girl was stabbed by another teen in the chest inside the Suteer Avenue-Rutland Road 3-line station in Brownsville on March 13, 2021.
Paul Martinka

Transit officials and union leaders have spent much of the pandemic sounding the alarm about increased crime rates, and called on the city to dramatically increase the number of police patrolling trains and buses.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio last week said the MTA’s messaging was “discouraging” riders who stopped commuting at the start of COVID-19 from returning to the system.

“Look, the MTA should be telling people it’s right to come back, not discouraging them. Because regular everyday New Yorkers know that the subways are safe,” de Blasio said.


Subway ridership has crept up in recent weeks, and topped two million rides in one day on multiple days last week, MTA stats show.

The MTA’s customer surveys show crime and harassment among the top concerns of both current and “lapsed” riders. An MTA spokesman noted that NYPD stats don’t measure “harassment of customers and employees.”

“Given an environment where crime has fallen at half the rate of decline in ridership, any reduction in felonies is great news for our customers,” spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement on Sunday.

“We continue our call to add more police to the system to bring down the unacceptable number of assaults on our workers and customers.”