Amid protests, MTA approves budget, plan to add officers to subway

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA board voted Wednesday to approve the agency's $17 billion operating budget, which includes a plan to add 500 police officers to patrol inside the subways.

The meeting drew some protests over that aspect of the budget, and seven demonstrators were ejected from the meeting after attempting to disrupt the vote.

There were no injuries, but one man had to be physically ejected after he rushed the board.

Five demonstrators were charged and received summonses for disorderly conduct.

The plan passed by a 9-3 margin, with three board members all appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio voting against it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had previously written Governor Andrew Cuomo a letter urging him to reroute the money to better subway and bus service, with MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye responding in a statement.

"We will not engage in politics when it comes to public safety," he said. "New Yorkers deserve to have reliable service and feel secure on our system. These priorities are one and the same. We are seeing vast improvements in subway on-time performance, but hate crimes have risen more than 50 percent, robbery is up 11.5 percent, aggravated harassment is up 167 percent, and the TWU has reported an increase in assaults on workers of 39 percent. Adding additional uniformed police officers across the MTA will help ensure safety and quality of life for our eight million daily customers."

The proposed budget includes no budget-driven service cuts and advances the agency's Transformation Plan to improve service and deliver significant reforms for taxpayers and commuters.

The implementation of the Transformation Plan is projected to deliver $1.6 billion in savings over its course.

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