A group of people stormed onto an MTA bus to start partying and smoking hookah in a wild scene that was captured on video.
The transit agency said the incident occurred just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, as the driver was trying to get through a street filled with double parked cars right near the Grand Avenue Bus Depot in Queens. The trouble started when the driver asked for some help, according to MTA President Craig Cipriano.
"The bus operator paused and asked a group to move the cars, and they immediately got on the bus," Cipriano said.
The bus was set to start its route heading to Brooklyn when the driver took an unexpected and unwanted detour, as the group suddenly came aboard while playing music and having a good time — with no masks and no worries in sight, video showed. The city bus was quickly turned into a party bus, as any social distancing measures were ignored as well.
The operator soon called for back up, which arrived 15 minutes later. By then, the group had disbanded and the bus was quickly able to continue its route, Cipriano said. But MTA employee and activist Tramell Thompson said the incident highlights some of the dangers of the job, saying that the safety of the operator was at risk and "basically putting everyone in danger."
"It's a bad predicament, because if you try to kick them off, they're openly smoking hookah ... you may come into a confrontation you don't want to, you're outnumbered," Thompson added.
While those who boarded the bus have not been charged with a crime, on Tuesday the MTA said it is working with the NYPD, which has launched an investigation. Cipriano said they would like to have a discussion with those responsible for the impromptu bash aboard the bus.
"That rambunctious crowd put the bus operator and themselves at risk when they violated multiple health and safety laws and rules by taking over a bus for mask-less smoking and lewd activities without regard to social distancing," said MTA Communications Director Tim Minton.
The MTA said it is reaching out to the operator, who has not yet been tested for COVID-19. The agency said the bus was later sanitized and an internal investigation was underway.