The head of the MTA’s largest transit union says he doesn’t want his kids riding the rails amid a rash of violent assaults in the transit system, he said Thursday.
“My children, if they tell me, ‘Dad I’m going to take the train into the city,’ you know, sometimes I say to them, ‘You know what, here’s money — take an Uber or take a cab,’ because, you know, it’s not a comfortable place,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said while appearing on a video panel hosted by the Manhattan Institute.
“I remember my mother used to say, ‘Make sure you ride the car with a conductor,’ but back then there were police that were patrolling the train in uniform, and they would walk up and down the trains,” Utano said. “That’s what we need to bring back.”
Utano and Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg, who also appeared on the panel, have repeatedly called for an increased police presence patrolling the system, as well as resources from the city to address homelessness and mental illness.
Mayor Bill de Blasio responded last month with an influx of 644 cops. But Feinberg and Utano want even more to bring the total number of officers patrolling the system in line with numbers from the mid-1990s.
Feinberg said the burden of responding to mental health issues in the subways and buses unfairly falls on transit workers, who have their own jobs to do.
“We don’t tell Hudson Yards, ‘Could you please be this sparkling mall, and could you also house several 100 people every night?’ It doesn’t make sense,” she said.
“It’s convenient, because it’s out of sight out of mind. But that doesn’t mean it’s fair to our workforce and it’s not fair to those who depend on the system and have to use it every day.”
She also took shots at progressive transit advocates who have opposed the push for more cops, as well as initiatives to clear trains and platforms of homeless individuals.
“If you’re going to be an advocate for transit, you have to be an advocate for the customers, you have to be an advocate for the workers, you have to be an advocate for the system,” she said. “If we allow crime and other quality of life issues to become out of control in the system, then you’re not advocating for it.”
Riders Alliance rep Danny Pearlstein told The Post adding cops is the wrong approach.
“Just as no one believes the subway is a good place to live, no one supports the idea that the subway should be a dangerous place,” Pearlstein said.
“The amount of additional eyes that those officers can provide is vanishingly small spread out across nearly 500 stations and over 6,000 subway cars.”