It happened around 10:40 a.m. on a southbound platform of a station at 149th Street and Grand Concourse.
Police say the 33-year-old conductor was sitting on a bench in uniform when a man walked up and slapped him in the face.
The two started to fight and the man stabbed the conductor in the shoulder and torso. But he managed to wrestle the attacker to the ground and hold him until police arrived and took him into custody.
The victim, who did not want to give his name, spoke with Eyewitness News after leaving the hospital Monday and described what was going through his mind.
"When he came to attack me, my brain was thinking, get this guy on the ground so that way he'll be safe and I'll be safe," he said. "That way he can't hurt nobody else, that's the main thing, so he won't hurt nobody else and nobody else will get hurt."
The conductor had no idea he was hurt. Witnesses told him he was bleeding.
"He took off his shirt and blood is just oozing out of his back, oozing and he didn't know it," MTA worker Tina Smith said. "I guess the adrenaline was there, he didn't feel it."
The victim said he is doing OK and despite all of this, he seems to hold no animosity towards his attacker.
"Someone like him, he's possibly a victim of mental illness or whatever medication he was on, so it's something that we have to take care of, rectify," he said.
The suspect, twenty-year-old Walter Rivera, is charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Police recovered the knife at the scene.
Witnesses said that right before the incident, the same suspect was on a landing just above the platform, harassing women.
"He was looking for trouble," Smith said. "Why would you have a knife if you weren't looking for trouble?"
The attack followed the recent incidents in which a man attacked two MTA workers with jars of urine, and the man remains on the loose.
The Transport Workers Union says something has to be done.
"Right now there's a maximum of seven years, we don't think that is enforced often enough," said Eric Loegel of TWU Local 100. "It needs to be made clear that if you put your hands on a New York City transit worker, you are going to go behind bars for a long time."
But the conductor said the problem isn't just the judicial system, it's the mental health system.
"What's going on is that there's a heavy mental issue that's going on and what causes medication," he said. "And I think this really needs to be dealt with, and there needs to be a lot of attention put on what's happening, even our youth, even to older people."
All three of the most recent victims were wearing their MTA uniforms at the time they were attacked, and many MTA workers say that uniform increasingly makes them a target.
The MTA said Monday it is taking steps to ensure the safety of employees and customers.
"We stand in solidarity with our employees and are doing everything we possibly can, in conjunction with the NYPD, to keep them and our customers safe from people who pose a threat," said MTA spokesman Max Young. "At the same time we need additional assistance from our city partners in addressing this problem, which will help us build on the steps we've already taken - Help Point kiosks, underground cellular service, platform conductors, and improved security systems."
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