safety on public transportation

MTA Bus Drivers to Host Rally, Demand NYPD Ride Buses Due to Safety Concerns

Rising concern over safety in the city's public transportation system continues following a string of violent attacks

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What to Know

  • More than 100 bus operators are expected to converge Wednesday afternoon in Harlem to demand police officers ride buses as a means of preventing attacks on drivers.
  • Rising concern over safety in the city's public transportation system continues following a string of violent attacks.
  • Between Oct. 5, 2020 and March 29, 2021, there were 29 felony assaults committed against bus operators. These are the most serious types of assaults. There were also nearly 800 incidents classified under penal law as harassments, which includes spitting and menacing, and can include punching, kicking and other forms of physical contact without serious long-term injury. 

More than 100 bus operators are expected to converge Wednesday afternoon in Harlem to demand police officers ride buses as a means of preventing attacks on drivers.

Rising concern over safety in the city's public transportation system continues following a string of violent attacks.

Between Oct. 5, 2020 and March 29, 2021, there were 29 felony assaults committed against bus operators. These are the most serious types of assaults. There were also nearly 800 incidents classified under penal law as harassments, which includes spitting and menacing, and can include punching, kicking and other forms of physical contact without serious long-term injury. 

“Our heroic bus operators have been hard at work keeping this city moving throughout the pandemic and any attack on them is an attack on all of us. Traveling on the bus is and continues to be safe and we welcome increased NYPD presence and focus to keep it that way as New Yorkers return to our system," MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said in a statement to News 4 New York.

Local 100 union members are expected to hand out leaflets to riders, encouraging them to contact the mayor and make bus operators’ safety a priority.

“You never see a police officer on a bus, and that needs to change,” Local 100 Vice President and Chief of Staff Richie Davis said. “There’s no one to help us out with the mentally ill and violent criminals.”

The concerns come after a growing number of violent attacks on the city's transportation system, including on subway riders and workers. An attack weeks ago left a train conductor hospitalized in critical condition, with calls for the city to "do something" growing louder in recent weeks.

In the Bronx, an MTA bus driver says a good Samaritan saved her life when she was attacked.

The police department statistics show while overall subway crime is down this year — felony assault is up 20% this year compared to last. Taking into account lower ridership because of the pandemic, the MTA and the union say the number of assaults has increased but the NYPD Transit Chief last month accused workers of fearmongering.

The MTA is asked for the police department to deploy 4,300 cops in the subway system. That’s the level of cops that were in the system when the NYPD took over the transit police in the 90s. In February, the NYPD increased the number of cops to 600 and Mayor Bill de Blasio mistakenly said last week that some have been removed, law enforcement sources told News 4.

Meanwhile, a customer survey released in April by the MTA, found that current riders said crime and harassments are more concerning than cleanliness, social distancing, mask wearing and health safety. Out of those 33,000 people surveyed who have not returned to public transit, 70 percent said crime and harassment is "extremely important."

Overall, the majority of them said crime likely will influence their decision to use transit in the future.

The police department said it had stepped up presence in the subways following a rise in random attacks, but less than half (45 percent) of MTA customers said they've noticed an increase of cops in the system.

However, 76 percent of people who answered the MTA's survey said they do feel safer in the presence of uniformed officers.

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