NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD says it’s increasing manpower at several subway stations.
This comes as the mayor took a swipe at the governor and MTA, declaring again that the system is safe.READ MORE: MTA, Union Leaders Call For More NYPD Officers To Patrol Subways After Off-Duty Conductor Nearly Blinded By Attacker
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reports, if you’re riding the rails in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio says you have nothing to fear.
“What’s happening right now is clearly at the instruction of the governor. The MTA leadership is fearmongering. I’ve never seen anything like it. Constantly saying something isn’t safe when it is,” de Blasio said Friday. “I’ve ridden the subways, so many folks in my life ride the subways all the time. They’re overwhelmingly safe.”
“Putting on rose colored glasses and pretending there is no problem is not a way to lead the city,” interim New York City Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg said Thursday.
Her comments came just hours after one of the latest incidents. An MTA conductor was nearly blinded riding the J train off-duty in Brooklyn. Police say a stranger slashed him in the face with a box cutter.
“Mister mayor, I am saying to you, it is not safe for the transit workers or the public to ride trains, buses and everything,” the victim’s aunt, Cassandra Sykes, said.
Most New Yorkers Grymes spoke with don’t know what the mayor’s talking about.
“There’s the mentally ill homeless sleeping on the subway that are starving, angry and upset and I don’t feel that comfortable,” one woman said.
“My biggest concerns are being alone on a subway car and being mugged by a vagrant,” said Upper West Side resident Alan Greenberg.READ MORE: Exclusive: MTA Safety Chief Patrick Warren Says They're Putting Out More Security, Requesting More NYPD Officers In Response To Riders' Crime Concerns
“Definitely for me it’s very good, safe,” said East Elmhurst resident Divi Izqurido.
“I feel safe, but speaking for the other people, the elderly, who can’t protect themselves, I feel sorry for them,” said Chelsea resident Tyrone Wilson.
De Blasio and NYPD say overall transit crime is down compared to the same time last year, but transit assaults are up some 20%.
The mayor says they’ve added 600 cops to the system, plus additional personnel.
“We’ve put auxiliary officers recently into the top 20 stations in the city, just really all to make New Yorkers feel safe,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
“The subways are coming back. The ridership is slowly increasing,” he added. “When you look at the crime levels in the subway, they’re down pretty dramatically.”
“What’s really going to help the subways get safer is more and more people riding them,” the mayor added.
In a statement, the MTA says it is grateful the NYPD is adding more auxiliary police officers, but more needs to be done, they say, including adding more full-time police officers, and more mental health services immediately.
In response to the mayor’s comments, the MTA says he needs to “finally recognize the reality of what’s happening.”MORE NEWS: Subway Conductors Attacked 4 Times In One Day, Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg Says More Help Is Needed
CBS2 has reached out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA for a reaction to de Blasio’s comments.