New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – So far this year, at least 45 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) workers and New York Police Department (NYPD) officials have been assaulted in New York city subways, and officials are looking for solutions.
According to figures released by the MTA, 20 MTA workers and at least 25 NYPD officers have been assaulted this year. Since August 2020, subway and bus employees have reported 3,904 incidents of assault or harassment.
Reports from MTA show that the most violent week for transit workers was the week of August 31, 2020, when 65 incidents of assault or harassment were reported. In 2022, the week of February 7 was the most violent, with 60 reports of assault or harassment – the fourth most violent week since August 1, 2020. The week of March 14 was the second most violent week this year, with 52 incidents.
New York City Transit Chief Jason Wilcox said police executives were “deeply concerned” by the reports. Those reports are resulting in arrests, though. Statistics show that crime arrests for transit crimes against workers and passengers are up 63 percent this year compared to 2021, and 60 percent of those arrests have been in connection with the assaults on city workers, Wilcox said during an MTA board meeting Monday.
During the meeting, NYC Mayor Eric Adams praised transit workers who rushed to the scene of a shooting in the subway recently that left 29 people injured, including 10 who were shot. Adams said transit workers risked their lives to help others.
“I want to thank every single MTA employee for their entire commitment, dedication and service. Your actions are indicative of what’s great about the service that you deliver every day, in general, and specifically, the service you deliver during times of crisis,” Adams said during the meeting. “When bullets were flying – 33 to be exact – you stayed calm, you stayed focused, and you saved lives. Thanks to you, no passenger was left behind, no lives were lost. And thanks to you, our city keeps running every day, day after day.
Most days, however, subway workers face assaults at the hands of passenger.
In March, a 37-year-old MTA conductor was taken to the hospital after she was attacked by a passenger. Police said the victim was on the southbound F train at the Church Avenue station around 2:40 a.m., on Saturday, March 19 when a man started smoking on the train. When she asked the man to stop, he became angry and punched her in the face, cutting her lip and causing it to swell. He then slashed her hand and leg with a sharp object, police said.
After the attack, he fled the station with an unknown woman. The worker was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for her injuries, including getting stitches for the cuts on her hand and leg.
In February, an MTA worker was injured when a man attacked her inside a station. Police said the woman was working as a booth attendant and was roping off the turnstile in the mezzanine of the Fulton Street station when a man walked up to her and hit her, police said. Officials said she was taken to the Brooklyn Hospital for treatment of “minor bruising” on her face, police said.
Lieber said the MTA is urging legislators to pass laws that would better protect transit workers. Currently, attacks on transit workers can result in seven years in prison.
“I want to say, as long as I’m on this job, I want MTA workers to know we have their backs,” Lieber said. “We’re pressing lawmakers in Albany to pass a new worker assault bill. It isn’t just about what happened on that terrible day and the risks that our workers experienced. But everyday MTA workers are being attacked, assaulted, and we need to have laws that deal with that more aggressively.”
Lieber said at the meeting that MTA is working on a plan to tackle the rising attacks on workers, and on passengers on New York’s public transit systems. Part of the response, he said, would be increased police patrols on transit systems. Additionally, he said, the MTA will look for ways to get information from the public that can be shared with the police.