After crime on the New York City subway system dropped significantly during the citywide lockdown this spring, violent crimes have increased. Incidents of felony assault, rape, homicide and robbery on the subway have surpassed the number committed in the same period last year. On Thursday, a woman was pushed off the platform at the Union Square station by an emotionally disturbed man who appeared to be homeless. She lay between the tracks and avoided serious injuries as a train passed over her. As the financially battered transit system warns of major service cuts and fare hikes if it does not get substantial federal aid, the rise in crime has stirred fears among riders and complicated efforts to coax people back to the subway, reports the New York Times.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has criticized the New York Police Department for not deploying more uniformed officers. The recent rash of attacks has led transit officials to press the city to provide more support for mentally ill people who seek shelter on the subway. “This city has a mental health crisis right now,’’ said Sarah Feinberg, New York City Transit’s interim president. Officials say the subway remains overwhelmingly safe and that the latest spike in crime pales next to the dark days of the 1970s and ’80s, when rampant violence was a steady source of dread among riders. Still, videos of recent attacks have circulated on social media and alarmed riders, many of whom are anxious about using public transportation during a pandemic over health concerns. “I think at this time it’s bad to be standing over there,” said Senance Johnson, 37, nodding toward the platform’s edge, “because a lot of people are getting pushed.” In the Union Square attack, Aditya Vemulapati, 24, was charged with attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment.