The head of the NYPD Transit Bureau accused MTA leadership at the agency's monthly board meeting Wednesday of "fear-mongering" about crime and safety in the system.
"What will hinder rider confidence is continued fear mongering," NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Kathleen O'Reilly said. "It's a disservice to New Yorkers to advance the narrative that crime is soaring in the subways when it's simply not the case."
Overall, major felony crimes this year through March are down 53%, compared to the same period last year, and the subway now averages at least three major felony crimes a day.
The decrease was largely driven by fewer robberies and grand larcenies, like pick pocketing.
There was an increase in felony assaults, and there were three murders in the transit system this year through March.
MTA officials say they're reflecting the concerns of riders who face harassment and other illegal behavior that does not get counted in the major crime report.
"We can't just pretend that people don't feel this way. They do and not every single feeling that happens in the subway or a thing that happens in the subway is reflected in these index crimes," Sarah Feinberg, interim NYC Transit president, said.
Accounting for the steep decline in ridership because of the coronavirus pandemic, MTA leaders say the rate of crime is up.
Still, the MTA chairman, Pat Foye, eager to increase the number of MetroCard swipes in the subway, had a message for riders.
"The subways are safe and they're dramatically safer than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago, in the bad old days," Foye said.