MTA Chairman: 'We're Listening To Our Customers'By John Dias

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The MTA and NYPD are in a subway safety dispute, as more people return to public transportation.

As CBS2’s John Dias reported, they’re arguing over just how much of a problem crime actually is in the city’s subway system.

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“It’s getting really bad out there,” Middle Village, Queens resident Gurhan Heinert told Dias.

He said it’s not the pandemic that scares him on the subway, it’s the violence.

“I do not take it at night. I get in a cab or I’ll find another alternative,” he said.

While NYPD stats show crime is down 53% in the subway year to date, MTA officials say since ridership has declined during the pandemic, crimes per rider have gone up and felony assaults spiked in March, as well.

“The police is there, they’re doing a great job, but there is something else more that they need to do for homeless,” said Jackson Heights resident Nancy Viola.

Now, the two organizations seem to be playing the blame game.

NYPD Transit Chief Kathleen O’Rielly says transit officials are “fearmongering” and need to stop, but MTA officials are adamant that is not the case.

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“No one is saying the crime is rampant and out of control in the subway,” Transit Authority Interim President Sarah Feinberg said. “We’re just trying to get it into a better place. The next three to six months are critical, in terms of getting ridership back.”

“What we’re doing is we’re listening to our customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye.

Foye pointed to a recent survey conducted by the Transit Authority showing 87% of riders are still worried.

“We’ve surveyed 33,000 of our customers, and customers are saying they’re concerned about crime and harassment. The same thing is true with respect to our employees,” he added.

This comes as other parts of the city are also trying to bounce back.

Business hubs will soon get more police, starting with Times Square, for a safe economic recovery in the areas that bring a lot of money into the city. Times Square accounts for 15% of the city’s economy – $58 billion.

“New York City is not going to recover unless Midtown and Times Square recover,” said Times Square Alliance Acting President Tom Harris.

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The city is also rolling out its Safe Summer NYC plan in hopes of convincing gang members to trade in violent behavior for jobs and sports. Critics say the city should be focusing more on arrests.

John Dias