Keeping city transit safe from COVID, criminals
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BRONX TIMES R 12 EPORTER, AUGUST 7-13, 2020 BTR
BY SARAH E. FEINBERG
As the city continues its reopening,
our greatest and most important
obligation remains the same –
keeping our riders and our employees
safe. Whether that means safe from a
virus or safe from other harm, safety
remains New York City Transit’s top
priority. It’s a duty we take
If you are just now returning to the
transit system, you should know that
there are some new amenities and safeguards
in place to help keep you safe.
We are installing protective barriers
on buses between riders and operators,
and we are offering free masks
on buses via our new, homemade
mask dispensers. We also provide free
masks, and free hand sanitizer, in every
subway station, along with new
signs and fl oor decals reminding riders
to social distance. We are also continuing
to clean and disinfect our system
But the most important element of
keeping yourself safe in the transit
system is to be vigilant about wearing
a mask. We know that wearing a mask
or face covering is the best thing we
can do to protect ourselves and others
from illness, and it’s also the law. I am
so proud that the vast majority of our
customers — consistently hovering in
the mid 90 percents — are complying
with the mandate.
Keeping you safe isn’t just about
cleaning, disinfecting, and providing
masks though — it’s also about preventing
and deterring crime in our
It’s important for us to be honest
and transparent about what we are
seeing— in recent weeks we’ve seen
an unsettling increase in assaults on
both MTA employees and riders. This
is intolerable. One incident would be
too many; that there have been multiple
attacks is outrageous.
Some of our bus operators have been
targeted for asking passengers to wear
a mask. Our conductors are sometimes
attacked, and spat upon. Just this past
week, a pregnant MTA cleaner was attacked
and beaten. These brave employees
are heroes helping to move our
city during an unprecedented crisis,
And they deserve so much better than
Policing in America, and in New
York, is going through an important
self-examination — as it should — but
we cannot lose sight of the importance
of an engaged, respectful law enforcement
presence in our system to prevent
and deter crimes like these from
To be clear, we have a safe transit
system— and one that New Yorkers
can be proud of. But we have to keep it
that way, and the reality is that even
one violent incident is too many.
For the future of the city, it is critical
that people continue to come back
to mass transit. Most days last week,
we served more than 2.4 million customers
on the subway and buses. I am
proud of those numbers, and proud
that New Yorkers are starting to come
back to Transit.
But if those numbers are ever going
to increase to pre-pandemic levels,
we must be able to promise New
Yorkers a safe system. Anything less
is unacceptable—to our riders and to
Sarah Feinberg is interim president
of MTA New York City Transit.
Interim NYC transit President Sarah Feinberg.