The MTA is hiring 500 new transit police to crack down on assaults and fare evasion on city subways and buses, it announced Thursday.
The new recruits will help replace the hundreds of redeployed MTA cops, Bridge and Tunnel officers and NYPD beat cops reassigned over the summer as part of a crack down on evasion and transit violence.
“These additional police officers will enable us to continue to focus on getting the homeless the help that they need, in conjunction with the city. They will help us in terms of fare evasion, and they’ll also help us in terms of making sure our staff are properly protected,” transit chief Andy Byford told reporters.
The money will come from the $40 million Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance — whose office stopped prosecuting fare evasion as a criminal offense last year — chipped in to the cause earlier this year, officials said.
Assaults against subway workers are up 39% from last year, according to the MTA’s largest labor union. Fare evasion is also growing, and the cash-strapped agency lost $240 million from it between March 2018 and March 2019.
But not everyone welcomed news of more cops on the subways, which are also patrolled by NYPD officers.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson expressed fears about “over-criminalizing” riders who couldn’t afford the $2.75 fare.
“So many people that are not paying the fare and evading the fare can’t afford it,” Johnson said at his monthly press conference Thursday. “We need to work on fare evasion, but I don’t think we need a hammer.”
And transit activists demanded the money go to making the trains run on-time instead.
“If the governor can take the Manhattan DA’s money for transit, it should help avert service cuts and increase frequency,” Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said in a statement.
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