The MTA caught attention last weekend over the way it handles the homeless crisis after deleting a tweet that suggested removing benches at a busy subway station was meant to "prevent the homeless from sleeping on them."
The criticism came after a straphanger noticed the missing benches at the Chelsea station and reached out to the MTA on Twitter.
"Benches were removed from stations to prevent the homeless from sleeping on them," the MTA tweeted back. It was an answer that set off criticism over how the system handles the homeless, as well as overall customer service.
The MTA, which deleted the tweet over the weekend, now says it was posted in "error."
"The subway is not a substitute for a homeless shelter," an MTA spokesperson said to News 4. "New Yorkers deserve much better care. We have been working with the City on this important issue and have dedicated mental health and medical resources which are urgently needed to solve the homeless crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic."
The Riders Alliance archived the original, now deleted tweet and shared it with a statement opposing the decision to remove the benches.
"Making the subway less useful and less comfortable makes life harder for essential workers, people with disabilities, and everyone who depends on public transit," the Riders Alliance said in a statement Sunday.
The transit advocate group also points to new "leaning posts" and ongoing overnight subway shutdowns as changes that are unfair to the homeless and all New Yorkers.
Markings were left along the pavement at the station platform where the benches used to be at the 23rd Street stop. But by Monday afternoon, the MTA said the benches would be back.
"After being deep cleaned and disinfected due to an unsanitary condition New York City Transit is replacing the benches at 23rd Street/6th Avenue Station beginning tomorrow," spokesperson Tim Minton said Monday.