Transit president defends spending $1M per month on private security to deter fare evasion

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Monday, December 12, 2022
Transit president defends private security to help deter fare evasion
The New York City Council held a joint oversight hearing with the NYPD and MTA CEO and Chairman Janno Lieber on subway safety. N.J. Burkett has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Council held a joint oversight hearing with the NYPD and city transit president on subway safety Monday.

The hearing comes at a time when many New Yorkers say they don't feel safe on trains after an increase in violent attacks on the trains this year.

The head of the MTA said the agency is determined to make riders feel safe -- no matter the cost. The Transit Authority is now spending $1 million a month on private security guards to watch turnstiles and gates at key subway stations across the country.

"They're really there as a deterrent, and to literally be our eyes and ears," Transit Authority President Richard Davey said.

In his first appearance before the council, Davey testified that fare evasion, in some places, was declining as a result.

MTA officials and board members have insisted that fare evasion leads to other crimes and cracking down is essential to restoring a sense of order on the buses and underground.

"One of the things I've heard from customers is if they see someone smoking, if they see someone drinking, if they see someone evading a fare, that begins to erode their confidence in the system," Davey said.

The Transit Authority employs some 200 private, unarmed uniformed security guards in 14 stations whose main mission is to deter people from entering the subway system through large, metal emergency exit doors known as slam gates.

"In a number of stations, we're seeing fare collection up, we're seeing you know, issues declining," Davey said. "We still see fare evasion, but I think they've been a way to really push, you know, a force you know, a force relief out there for our for our police, as well."

The hearing happened just hours after a man was slashed while riding the subway in Manhattan.

The latest incident happened around 1:30 a.m. when a man was slashed with a boxcutter at a station not far from City Hall.

Police say a 64-year-old man was slashed on the nose with a box cutter after an argument with another man on a northbound 4 train. After the fight, police say the victim fled into the Bowling Green station. The suspect took off last seen wearing a green jacket.

The MTA previously announced crime in the transit system dropped 13% last month compared to October.

"In the month of November, we had a couple weeks where we had the lowest rate of crimes per million riders that we've had since before COVID," MTA chair Janno Lieber said. "This is by no means time to declare victory, but we are in the right direction."

Since September, state and local leaders have unveiled plans to make sure all New Yorkers are safe in the public transit system.

Some of those plans include adding cameras to every subway car and having more cops on subway platforms across the city.

Lieber noted the additional officers on the platform have already had a visible impact on transit crime.

"The NYPD has been great," Lieber said. "What happened a couple weeks ago, I don't want folks to forget that the governor and mayor stepped to the podium and announced they were putting 1,200 more cops into the transit system. And lo and behold, the month that followed, transit crime went down 13%."

ALSO READ | NYC Council Committee holds hearing on bill ending tenant criminal background checks

Janice Yu reports on today's committee hearing at NY City Hall.


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