Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As New York City resumes 24/7 subway service - and amid a recent spike in subway crime - the city is adding 250 more NYPD officers to patrol its transit system, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
The 250 additional officers, along with 2,500 already deployed and 500 additional added earlier, brings the total to 3,250.
"We are going to do the things we need to do to keep New Yorkers safe, to get them back to the subways," he said. "Everyone who comes back to the subways make them safer."
De Blasio says it is the largest NYPD transit deployment in over 20 years.
The mayor then challenged the MTA to put its own police officers into the subways.
"We need the MTA to pull their own weight," the mayor said. "It is easy to criticize. How about simply contributing and helping achieve the mission together. Over the past 17 months ago, the MTA approved the hiring of hundreds of new MTA police officers, but here we are, basically a year-and-a-half later, and they still haven't filled all those vacancies. "
De Blasio says although there was a pandemic, police and firefighter vacancies were able to fill the vacancies.
"The MTA needs to step up," he said. "They need to hire and fill their vacancies. They've got a substantial police force. They've got to focus their police where the riders are. MTA has a variety of responsibilities in the city and the suburbs, I respect that. The vast majority of the riders are in the subway, in the city. The subways are the glue for the entire metro region. We keep contributing, we need the MTA to contribute as well."
The MTA responded by calling the 250 more police "a positive step forward," and they said will be adding another 100 MTA police to the subways as well.
Despite a recent uptick in crime across the city's subway system, more people are taking the train.
MTA officials say they are now averaging more than 2 million riders a day.
That's only about 35% of pre-pandemic ridership, but it is a dramatic increase from this time last year.
Also on the rise: assaults.
The NYPD has added officers, but the MTA wants an even stronger police presence.
Some riders say they don't always feel safe.
"I always look over my shoulder to see what's going on, I always be alert," one rider told Eyewitness News.
"In February, the Mayor first announced a surge of 644 officers into the system, and then dozens of auxiliary officers dedicated to the 20 busiest stations, and then an additional 80 new officers from the NYPD academy dedicated to the Transit Bureau," said Abbey Collins with the MTA. "Today, he announced an 'additional' 250 officers being specially deployed to the subways. That total should come to more than 1,000 officers. Now it turns out 20% of those 644 have already been withdrawn, as we have previously raised concerns about, and the 250 announced today aren't new officers at all, but just extra shifts and will not even be full time. This is irresponsible. The Mayor should immediately clarify for the public and our employees once and for all the real number of officers being dedicated to the safety of the subway system."
"The subway is safe, but it's not as safe as it can and should be, and that's why we've renewed our request to the mayor and City Hall for additional resources," said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye.
To mark the transition back to 24/7 service, Foye joined other agency leaders and MTA workers at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning to ring the opening bell.
And for those who were wondering, the overnight cleaning of subway cars and stations will continue.
The MTA says workers will continue mopping, wiping and disinfecting at the terminus of each line, despite the end of that overnight closure.
And the agency will continue to administer coronavirus vaccinations at four MTA train stations through May 22.
The trial project will continue through at least May 22 at Penn Station, 3 to 8 p.m.; Grand Central Terminal, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; East 180th Street in The Bronx, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Broadway Junction in Brooklyn, 3 to 8 p.m.
The MTA initially offered vaccinations at eight stations from May 12 to May 16 as a pilot program. 4,637 doses were administered at those eight locations, and nearly 3,500 of them at the four stops that will continue.
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