Transit Police will institute a new patrol plan this month, deploying more officers at peak travel times, an effort officials believe will curb crime on the MBTA.
“We’re going to redeploy our officers where they’re needed most, Monday through Friday,” Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan said Saturday. “We feel confident [that] with our new patrol plan, you will see a reduction of [major] crimes on the MBTA.”
Major crimes — led by bike theft — rose by 7 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to Transit Police statistics. But the overall number of major crimes on the T, which has an annual ridership of 380.9 million, remained relatively low, at just over 1,000 reported last year, according to the statistics.
Late last year, the Transit Police undertook a review and analysis of call times and locations, Sullivan said, and used it to tailor a new patrol plan to periods of time prone to more crimes and to stations that have more problems. During the week, he said, riders take 1.3 million trips per day — but on the weekends, traffic drops, upward of 60 percent.
Beginning Saturday, he said, riders should expect to see more uniformed officers during high-volume commuting times. Currently, the Transit Police maintain consistent staffing seven days a week.
There will still be weekend coverage, he said, but the new schedule will take into account the fact that the system is much busier during the workweek.
“It doesn’t make sense to have the same coverage when the bulk of our ridership is during the week,” Sullivan said.
In addition to overhauling the patrol plan, the Transit Police Department is expanding.
The department is planning to switch to using civilian instead of uniformed dispatchers, which will free up 15 to 20 officers to patrol. Five new officers will graduate the academy this week, Sullivan said, and another 15 recruits are entering the academy this month.
Major crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assaulted, burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson. Larcenies made up the majority of reported crimes on the T, the statistics said, with 668 instances last year — an increase of 6 percent over 2014 numbers. Larceny of bicycles surged by 38 percent between 2014 and 2015, and made up more than half of all larcenies last year.
Sullivan said the T has seen an increase in commuters riding bicycles to stations. When bike cages fill up, he said, people lock their bicycles to signs or railings — and some do not lock them at all.
“We are going to aggressively address that as soon as the weather breaks,” said Sullivan. Police will rely on cameras, human surveillance, bait bikes, and uniformed presence, he said. Officials also hope to build more bike cages.
There were 13 more aggravated assaults in 2015 than in 2014, with 143 reported incidents last year. Most of those encounters, he said, were between people who knew each other and happened to meet in the T — encounters that are difficult to predict and prevent.
Two homicides happened on T property last year, he said — one at Jackson Square Station, where a 16-year-old allegedly stabbed a 17-year-old former friend to death, and the other inside a Silver Line bus shelter, where a homeless person was killed, a case that remains open. There were no homicides on T property in 2014, according to the statistics.
Five rapes were reported in both 2015 and 2014, according to the statistics; robberies rose from 144 in 2014 to 150 in 2015; burglaries rose from 12 to 16; auto thefts rose from 17 to 24; and arson dropped from 6 instances to 1.
Minor crimes on the T, which include fare evasion, simple assault, vandalism, fondling, and drug offenses, rose 9 percent, with some of the biggest jumps in simple assaults, loitering, and credit card fraud. Fare evasion held steady from 2014 to 2015, making up more than half of all minor crimes.
“The one that’s most concerning to me: forcible fondling,” Sullivan said. “We believe that it’s an underreported crime.” Just 55 instances were reported in 2014 and 58 in 2015, the statistics say.
Sullivan said many victims do not come forward because they are embarrassed or unsure what to do. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, he said, and Transit Police are trying to get out the word that victims should not be ashamed, and that fondling is taken seriously and will be prosecuted.
“We will not tolerate that behavior on the MBTA,” said Sullivan. Victims are encouraged to call Transit Police at 617-222-1212 as soon as possible. They can also call detectives directly at 617-222-1050.
Transit Police plan to partner with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center next month for an awareness campaign, he said.
Alewife, South Station, and Davis Square stations had the highest number of reported major crimes in 2015, according to the statistics, with Alewife reporting 80, South Station 68, and Davis Square 41.
In Alewife and Davis Square stations, bicycle thefts led the numbers, Sullivan said. In South Station, many of the reported crimes were theft of phones or laptops.
Some riders Saturday night said they feel safe on the T but others cited frightening experiences.
Amanda and Mario Vasquez don’t take the T every day, but said they have seen fights and racist incidents.
“I see people not behaving, fighting with each other,” Amanda said, adding that people can be shallow and racist.
“There is always some kind of drama, or somebody high, like a junkie,” Mario said. “They ask for money, and if they don’t get it they get mad.”
Maria Benatuil, a UMass student, who has been taking the T for two months after moving here from Venezuela, said she feels generally safe, “but still not 100 percent.”
“If it’s late at night I might consider an Uber,” she said. “Even now, I was considering it.”Globe correspondent Alexandra Koktsidis contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.