Subway crime on decline this year as arrests soar

Arrests are up in the subway system even as crime is on the decline.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA

The subway system has seen a significant dip in major crimes this year, police said on Monday, even as the number of arrests and summonses issued in the transit network soars.

Over the first nine months of 2023, the number of major felonies perpetrated in the subway system has dipped 5% compared to last year, with police recording 1,632 “index” crimes this year compared to 1,718 in 2022, according to Chief Michael Kemper of the NYPD’s Transit Bureau.

Police logged five murders in the subway system through September, down from six seen in the same period last year. Still, annual murders in transit remain above pre-pandemic baselines, and grisly crimes can often capture the public’s imagination, as took place last week when a woman was gravely injured after being pushed onto the subway tracks in Midtown.

Rape, robbery and grand larceny also have declined year-over-year in 2023, echoing a decline in major crimes seen across the city this year. Shootings are down 62.5% in transit, Kemper told the MTA Board on Monday.

“Although we are encouraged by these decreases, we certainly realize that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Kemper.

On the other hand, felony assaults are up slightly, jumping 2.7% from 411 to 422, while burglaries have doubled — but only from 5 to 10.

Despite the slight dip in mayhem, enforcement activity has climbed significantly. Arrests are up by 57.4%, climbing above 10,000 instances in the first nine months of 2023, while summonses are up 54.5%.

Last year, officials announced a large surge of police presence within the transit system, aiming to establish “omnipresence” underground after a series of high-profile crimes in the network.

The surge also meant a large uptick in enforcement against fare evasion, which the MTA says cost it nearly $700 million in lost revenue last year. In the second quarter of 2023, the most recent where data is available, arrests were up 119% compared to the same quarter of 2022, while summonses increased 58%.

As has been seen historically, fare evasion enforcement falls along stark racial lines. In the second quarter, 88% of arrests and 67.4% of summonses for fare evasion were for Black or Latino riders, well above their demographic shares of the city’s population.