SEPTA reports decrease in serious crimes

SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie Richards said the authority receives less for capital projects than peer agencies.

SEPTA has reported significant progress with serious crimes so far in 2024. The report, released by the SEPTA Transit Police Department, compares statistics from the first half of this year to the first half of 2023 and states that there has been a 37% decrease in assaults, robberies, and other serious crimes during that time.

According to the report, some of the most violent offenses, including aggravated assault and robbery, have seen a 47% decrease in occurrence. Aggravated assaults dropped from 71 occurrences to 50 from 2023 to 2024, while robbery offenses have made a significant drop from 146 cases to 63. According to SEPTA, there was not a single increase in any crime category in 2024 compared to 2023.

The report comes ahead of SEPTA’s recently announced enforcement program, which will increase penalties for quality-of-life offenses in an effort to discourage offenders, especially repeat offenders, in an effort to improve their customers’ experience.

“The safety and security of our customers and employees is SEPTA’s top priority, and these results confirm that our enhanced hiring and enforcement efforts are having a positive impact,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards in a statement. “The budget approved by the SEPTA Board last month includes important safety and security initiatives that will build on that momentum, and we are hopeful that the state will enact a new transit funding plan to support these critical priorities.”

SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards speaks Monday, Aug. 18, at Dilworth Park during a news conference about the city joining the Key Advantage program.Jack Tomczuk

Transit Police began issuing Code Violation Notices (CVNs) on July 1 for “low-level crimes,” such as smoking, littering, public alcohol consumption, public urination, and other offenses. Those issued CVNs will be subject to fines ranging from $25 to $150.

Additional efforts to combat crime include a Virtual Patrol Unit, which will utilize surveillance systems to assist in dispatching offices when needed. SEPTA also continues to grow its Transit Police force, with 14 cadets graduating in June and another 17 recruits who have recently begun training at the police academy.

“We want everyone to feel safe when they are riding SEPTA, and I am pleased that incidents of violent crime continue to decrease as a result of our efforts,” said SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson. “The addition of new Transit Police Officers is allowing us to have a more visible presence in our stations and vehicles, and new deployment strategies and enforcement tools are helping to mitigate violations that lead to more serious crime.”

SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson speaks Wednesday, March 6, at the authority’s headquarters.JACK TOMCZUK

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