The Transit Workers Union, the biggest union for transit workers in NYC, says that the city is temporarily storing subway fatality victims' bodies in MTA employee break rooms for hours without being properly handled. And despite this happening in the subways, which are under the state's control, they place the blame on the shoulders of the de Blasio administration.

"The city has to figure out a way in these tragedies to remove the bodies from the subway system much more quickly," Derick Echevarria, vice president of stations for TWU Local 100, told Gothamist. "The subway is not supposed to be a temporary morgue. Transit workers shouldn't have to worry that when they go into a utility room or break room or employee bathroom that a body might be in there."

In a statement, TWU Local said that the Mayor's Office had failed to provide enough staffing for the Medical Examiner's Office to retrieve and remove bodies. Because of the lag—Echevarria said it could take between one and three hours to retrieve a body—police are forced to "store the bodies in utility rooms and other subway rooms while waiting for the Medical Examiner's Office staff to arrive. It's unacceptable that transit workers have to endure this on the job."

MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said in a statement, "It's of the utmost importance that anyone who dies in the subway is removed from tracks and public spaces like platforms as quickly as possible, to restore service quickly and to give humane treatment to the deceased and their family. The placement and removal of bodies are handled by NYPD and the NYC Medical Examiner, and we’re discussing with TWU officials how any of the current practices can be enhanced for the comfort of our workers."

There seems to be some disagreement over the exact locations where the bodies are put. NYC Transit officials said that bodies aren't "stored" in break rooms, but rather are kept temporarily in "non-public areas" by the NYPD while they wait for officials to show up.

Echevarria—who called the situation, which was first reported by The Chief Leader, a "longstanding problem"— described the placement of the bodies as such: "The police moved the bodies off the tracks and platforms to a break room or utility room or an employee bathroom," he explained. "A police officer will stay with the body. Transit workers going about their duties have opened a door only to come upon a body. The platform is a public space. An employee bathroom or crew room or break room or utility room is not open to the public—but they are frequented by transit workers."

Average Medical Examiner wait times for all emergencies have dropped from 2.4 hours in fiscal year 2016 to 1.9 hours in fiscal year 2017, according to a mayoral spokesperson. They said that since 2014, the mayor has added $11 million to boost staffing at the Medical Examiner's office—adding 127 jobs to bring a staff total to 650 people—and they expect wait times to continue to decrease.