MTA says Grand Central Madison station is virtually free of crime

Grand Central Madison, the MTA’s gleaming new Long Island Rail Road terminal set 150 feet underground, might be New York City’s safest train station.

MTA Chair Janno Lieber cited next-to-nil crime rates at the commuter hub on Tuesday as a reason for businesses to rent one of the 32 newly available retail spaces inside. Grand Central Madison, Lieber said, should not have the same problems facing Fulton Transit Center, where a retail giant is citing crime as a reason to break its lease with the agency.

“This facility has been virtually perfect from day one,” Lieber said during a panel inside the station. “I mean, the word is out that this is a really comfortable place to move through, and it’s got the best public bathrooms in New York, which says something about the level of safety.”

MTA officials said only one major crime has been reported in Grand Central Madison since it opened to the public in January 2023. And that incident was a minor one: Someone stole a pricey jacket that was left unattended.

The MTA seeks a master tenant to oversee all the retail in the terminal. Transit officials have so far leased out only one commercial location inside the station, inking a deal last month with Tracks Raw Bar and Grill, which had a location inside Penn Station for 17 years until construction forced it to relocate in 2019.

MTA officials hope to select a developer to run the retail spaces by June, with the goal of opening some shops in the fall, and filling out all the locations by 2026.

Lieber’s hopeful outlook for Grand Central Madison starkly contrasts with recent developments at Fulton Transit Center, where the MTA is locked in a legal battle with Westfield over its attempt to break an agreement to oversee retail at the Lower Manhattan station. Westfield has said rampant crime in the station has driven out tenants.

Lieber said he doesn’t expect the same kind of problems at Grand Central Madison, noting that the MTA has more control over entry into the LIRR station. Grand Central Madison, unlike Fulton Center, closes every night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The MTA chair’s comments come as Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams continue to announce new crackdowns on subway crime, including last month’s deployment of National Guard soldiers into the transit system and the NYPD’s plan to test metal detectors equipped with artificial intelligence technology in some stations.

MTA officials said Grand Central Madison is already the third-busiest commuter railroad hub in the United States. The agency noted that for two consecutive days in March, 40% of LIRR passengers coming into or out of Manhattan passed through the terminal.

“We need help turning it into the vibrant destination that it was always meant to be,” Lieber said.

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