Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a major crackdown to combat violence and fare evasion on subways and buses, committing an additional 500 uniformed officers to the city’s transit system.
“Fare evasion is a growing, monetarily significant problem,” the governor said at a June 17 press conference. “More and more people are evading the fare, and getting on the trains without paying. That’s not only a legal violation, it’s unfair to everyone.”
Of the newly commissioned transit-cops, 400 will be reassigned officers who currently patrol for the MTA and the NYPD, and 100 will be redeployed Bridge and Tunnel officers — whose jobs have become obsolete thanks to automatic tolling on highways, according to Cuomo.
The transit cops will focus on patrolling 100 subway stops and bus routes which authorities have deemed ‘hotspots’ for fare-beaters and bruisers.
Cuomo said the effort would help recoup missed revenue for the cash strapped subway system, which lost out on $243 million over the last 12 months, according to a recently released MTA study.
The additional law enforcement agents will also work to combat the growing numbers of assaults that occur on subways and busses, according to Cuomo, who highlighted another report on violence against transit workers from 2013 to 2017.
“We’ve seen 2,300 harassments incidents of MTA employees. One hundred assaults — stabbings, punchings violence — against MTA employees,” the governor said. “It’s incomprehensible to me. It’s a true problem, and it’s getting worse.”
NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the additional forces were needed to help prevent crimes against civilian subway riders.
“Our priority is to keep the nearly six million riders who use the subway each day safe, and to ensure quality-of-life on the trains and in stations,” he said. “In 1990, there were nearly 17,500 transit crimes, compared to 2018, where there were 2,500 transit crimes, which is approximately one crime for every million riders.”
The Transport Workers Union Local 100 — which represents over 40,000 MTA workers — celebrated the announcement as a major victory for the livelihood of transportation civil servants, according to the organizations president.
“This is a big victory,” said Tony Utano. “We want to go to work and do our jobs and go home to our families unharmed. We are sick and tired of the abuse. We are hopeful that these additional officers will not only deter attacks against our members but also result in quick arrests when crimes do take place. Our voices have been heard. This is a big step forward.”