By CLAYTON GUSE, KERRY BURKE and ELIZABETH KEOGH NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
New Yorkers who ventured back to the subways in 2021 endured a sobering surge in violent crime unseen in the last quarter-century, new police data shows.
Despite ridership numbers gutted by COVID-19, reports of assault and murder hit their highest numbers since the late 1990s.
Eight homicides and eight rapes were reported on the subways in 2021 — more than double the four murders and three rapes reported in 1997, some 25 years earlier.
The NYPD also counted 461 underground assaults across the city last year — 102 more than in 2020. That was the highest number of assaults counted since 1997, when police counted 501 subway attacks.
The eight reported homicides in the subways last year were two more than were reported in 2020, and the eight reported rapes underground last year were the most since 2012, which saw 10 incidents of rape.
Burglary, grand larceny and robbery in subways were all down last year from 2020, the data shows.
Despite the uptick in victims of violent crime in the subway system, ridership was down about 50% last year from pre-pandemic numbers.
Despite the low ridership, the crime rate per million riders rose 155% from 1.5 in the first 11 months of 2018 to 2.32 in first 11 months of 2021, according to the MTA.
At the 145th St. station in Harlem, straphangers were concerned, but not surprised, over the rise in crime.
“You have to constantly be on your toes,” said Bella Martinez, 22. “There are always people hanging out, people under the influence, homeless, all kinds. You have to keep to yourself and just get to your destination.”
Naomi Lopez, 50, echoed that statement.
“The city only waits until something happens, then they do something,” Lopez said. “The numbers are too high, way too high. More police is the answer.”
The new data on subway crimes was published days after Michelle Go, 40, was pushed to her death at a Times Square subway station last Saturday.