Over the years, I have covered numerous stories involving the assault of transit employees. The majority of these stories centered around bus drivers who have little protection against the riding public. Unfortunately some have even lost their life due to the lack of protection.
The MTA is hoping a new ad campaign will bring awareness to a new program that will offer rewards of up to $2000 for those who provide details of assaults to transit employees. Here is more via the press release I received:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has launched an ad campaign promoting a new program that offers rewards of up to $2,000 to transit riders or others who offer details to police after witnessing a crime against a transit employee.
Advertisements detailing how members of the public can participate in the program are now being posted in buses. Beginning this month, they will begin appearing in the subway system as well. In addition, the MTA has created a web page offering information about the program, at http://www.mta.info/nyct/transitwatch.htm.
The program, known as Transit Watch, was announced this year by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in the weeks after a joint conference convened by the MTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 100 to address an increase in the number of assaults on MTA personnel.
“Thousands of men and women work on the front lines of the MTA system every day to make sure millions of people can get to work safely,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “We need to ensure they stay safe as well. Transit Watch puts criminals on notice that if they assault a bus or subway employee, everyone who sees it happen is going to help put them in jail.”
Customers who see a crime take place are asked to call the NYPD’s CrimeStoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls are kept strictly confidential, and you need not provide your name.
“Assaults on transit workers are on the rise, and the MTA is committed to making them stop,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, President of MTA New York City Transit. “An attack on any one of our workers is an attack on all of us, and we share the goal of protecting our employees as they put their lives on the line every day.”
Transit Watch falls under a national program administered by the Federal Transit Administration. It is made possible locally by the New York City Police Foundation, which supports innovative NYPD programs like Crime Stoppers.
Assaulting an MTA employee is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
On one hand it is positive to see more awareness being brought to the safety of transit employees. However on the other hand, why has it taken so long for the agency to even consider something like this? How many transit employees had to be assaulted before this idea was even thought of? The answer was clearly one too many.
Quite honestly the real effort needs to not go towards reward programs for tips but for actual safety measures for workers who are the main reason this system is able to move millions a day. Hopefully the agency continues to focus their priorities to where it needs to be.
xoxo Transit Blogger