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Assaults on Metro skyrocketed in 2021; even though ridership plummeted

Even with nearly 80% fewer riders on the rails in 2021, aggravated assaults significantly outpaced the last 5 years.

WASHINGTON — The attack on the New York City subway put public transit groups across the country on alert.

Here in the DC metro area, WMATA reported there is no threat to Metro’s rail service.

Tuesday, Metro police offered a show of force at several stations around the District in an effort to calm fears of a similar attack happening here.

However, at some Metro stops it was business as usual.

“I ride Metro every day and it's the same old lack of officers and lack of security here,” One rider told WUSA9. “I just think police don't like to be present on Metro because of all the crime that happens. Whether it's skipping fares or people being hooligans.”

Metro’s crime stats show that in 2021 overall crime was down along with ridership. But there was a spike in one category of serious crime: aggravated assaults.

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In 2021, Metro reported 183 aggravated assaults, which is an astronomical increase from 105 in 2018.

That is a statistic that becomes more daunting when you factor in that ridership was down nearly 80% in 2021 from its pre-pandemic levels.

WUSA9 asked WMATA for some key safety and crime stats. The transit service reports police have 390 sworn officers on duty. Those officers handled more than 43,600 calls last year and made more than 1,200 arrests.  A spokesman for the agency said no one was available to comment further.

In the meantime, riders WUSa9 talked to on Tuesday said the increased security didn’t make them feel better about the state of safety on Metro’s rails.

“I'm not sure if a temporary increase in security is what we're looking for,” one man said, “There's a minimum level of security that should be provided at all times.”

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