NYC transit workers worried amid spike in subway violence


Big Apple transit workers say they are starting to feel like sitting ducks.

The recent spike in violence in city subways and bus routes — including this weekend’s bloody A train slashing rampage that left two dead and two wounded — has some MTA employees looking over their shoulders.

“The reality is it’s always a risk,” said E train operator Wayne Wong. “NYCT says they care but they do not. Many times they say police are on the way but it’s not true and it’s a crapshoot.

“I can tell you that so much drug usage was and is going on and what appears at times various rip-off crews congregating at various stations,” Wong said. “Train operators, conductors and cleaners see a whole lot and it’s best to listen to us.”

The past two weeks have seen more than a dozen attacks on straphangers and transit workers from the Bronx to Queens, including an assault on an MTA bus driver who was smacked with a 2-by-4 in Brooklyn last week.

NYPD increased their visible presence along the A train subway line after multiple knife attacks.
NYPD increased its visible presence along the A train subway line after multiple knife attacks.
Gregory P. Mango

On Sunday, Rigoberto Lopez, 21, a troubled homeless man, was charged with murder for stabbing four people along the subway A line, killing two.

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According to MTA statistics, there were 11 assaults targeting transit workers since the beginning of January — and dozens of incidents of employees being harassed.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m scared — I’ve been around,” subway conductor Andrew Diomede told The Post. “But I’m very apprehensive. You never know what’s going to happen.”

“Right now I’m not even in the system — I’m out on comp for an assault,” he said. “This is the second time. I got hit in the head with a bottle 10 years ago.”

“Anything with violence doesn’t surprise me at all,” Diomede said. “This is nothing new. I mean, yeah, two people were murdered. You just had a guy who took it to another level. But there’s violence and assault going on all the time.”

An NYPD sergeant speaks with a subway train conductor.
An NYPD sergeant speaks with a subway train conductor.
NYPD Transit

Another train operator complained that subway vagrants are constantly “in your face.”

“I got spit on during the height of the pandemic,” the employee said. “Recently I had a guy in my car yelling, ‘I’m gonna kill everyone!’ I called it in and they just said, ‘Signal in route,’ which means they’re not even going to call the cops but I should use the horn to signal the police and hope they come. No one came. He thankfully got off.”

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The MTA responded to the uptick in assaults late Sunday in an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea asking that 1,500 additional cops be deployed to the transit system — triple the number Shea promised Saturday.

“We believe the additional 500 officers you agreed to dedicate to the subway system is an important first step,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye and Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg said in the joint letter Sunday.

The MTA has asked for 1,500 more NYPD officers to help the transit system.
The MTA has asked for 1,500 more NYPD officers to help the transit system.
NYPD Transit

“We believe more is needed, however, and so we are writing today to request an additional 1,000 NYPD officers be assigned to the Transit Bureau to patrol subways and buses immediately,” the letter said.

MTA officials said Monday they had not received a reply.

In an email Sunday, City Hall spokesperson Avery Cohen said the promised 500 officers “will work hand-in-hand with the thousands of officers and outreach workers who already do this work in our communities and subways every day.”

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Officials at Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union said they have long sought additional police in the subways as well — and were at least grateful for Shea’s promised 500 cops.

“Nobody feels safe in the subway,” union president Tony Utano said in a statement. “We have consistently called on Mayor de Blasio to add more police on the subway. He finally responded. That’s a good step. But this has to be a long-time assignment, not a quick flash in the pan.”

“We need police officers in uniform, very visible, throughout the stations,” Utano said. “They need to be seen on the platforms and trains regularly.”



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