Attacking an MTA employee is a felony in New York State, yet it just keeps on happening. In just the past few weeks we've seen a lady bus driver punched in the face and a subway conductor knocked out by a man as he was pulling a 1 train out of the station. In fact, attacks are up 30 percent this year with 40 reported already (there were 94 attacks reported in 2011 and 72 in 2010). So now some pols are proposing offering cash to those who help catch those terrorizing transit workers. Sort of a 'if you see something, stick around and get cash' kind of thing.
Yesterday, transit workers held their first-ever transit assault conference at the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn to talk about the problem. The conference was held because, according to the transit workers union, things have gotten increasingly out of control to the point that on average five passengers spit on, intimidate or hit a bus or subway worker every week. "If five cops were getting assaulted a week, they'd bring out the National Guard," said TWU President John Samuelsen.
And, though TWU and the MTA agree on little, they agree on this issue. "An attack on anyone of you is an attack on all of us," MTA chair Joe Lhota told workers yesterday. For further proof this was a serious issue, four of the city's five district attorneys dropped by the conference (along with a Bronx ADA).
So what to do? Apparently three-quarters of the attacks on transit workers occur on buses, so the NYPD's Transit Police Cheif Joseph Fox says that more cops will be riding the buses as "visible protection" (guess installing those partitions to protect drivers is just taking too long?). And beyond that, there is the idea of a reward for helping catch crooks. "You hit a bus driver, everyone on the bus is in danger," said Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in support of the idea.
We'll take giving cash to helpful citizens over giving tasers to MTA employees anyday.