Kathy Hochul Proposes Wider MTA Ban on Dangerous People in NYC Subways
ALBANY. Judges may bar more dangerous people from using New York City’s subways and buses under a budget proposal put forward by Gov. Kathy Hochul amid broader efforts to improve safety following a series of violent incidents last year.
The proposal would expand a 2020 law that allows years-long bans for people convicted of sexual offenses or assaults against MTA employees, including those also convicted of assaulting other agency passengers and contractors.
“They need quality service. They need reliability. They need security,” Hochul told reporters Thursday, highlighting her efforts to improve security and reliability in the MTA system, including a proposed $1.6 billion increase in state budget funding.
Judges will also have more clarity on including such bans at sentencing if the idea is approved in the state budget by April 1 following talks between Hochul, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Histie ( D-Bronx). .
Stewart-Cousins and Histy did not comment Thursday on whether they supported her idea of bringing New Yorkers back into the system after a significant drop in passenger traffic early in the pandemic.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has written extensively about security in the MTA system. “Allows cops to get rid of chronic bad actors on the spot without catching them on a new crime.”
“These provisions will facilitate a return to passenger travel by reducing the likelihood of encountering dangerous people and curbing violent behavior within the MTA system,” the official memorandum attached to the draft spending plan, released Thursday, said.
Supporters of the bill say the proposed changes will help get New Yorkers back on public transit after the plummeting ridership early in the pandemic, and make it easier for judges to bar dangerous people from the MTA system.
As of the end of 2022, only one person has been locked out of the system after an attack on an MTA employee, despite the fact that clandestine crime jumped 40% last year alone.
“We want the judges to issue a transit ban,” said TWU Local 100 President Richard Davis. “It’s long overdue. The criminal justice system must make it clear that these unprovoked and dastardly attacks on public transport workers are unacceptable.”
The lack of action on the 2020 law has prompted MTA CEO Janno Lieber to call on state leaders to back the idea of expanding the law, which he says district attorneys should apply more aggressively.
“I don’t see any reason why any violent crime is in the system — if, you know, some of them end up in jail, they should at least not be able to use the system and hit their victims in the face,” he said. said.
Subway and bus violence reached record levels last year with shocking incidents.
“I’m still reviewing the budget and reviewing all proposals, but we all want people to feel safe on the subway, especially after recent tragedies like the death of Michelle Goh,” Assemblywoman Grace Lee (D -Lower Manhattan). , referring to the fatal shoving of an Upper West Side woman in January 2022.
Transportation advocates argue that banning people from using the subway system is not the way to achieve the goal of bringing vagrants back into trances and buses.
“Our vision is a metro that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all New Yorkers. The best way to achieve this is to make it as useful as possible in order to bring back as many riders as possible through more frequent maintenance,” said Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein.
Assemblyman Inez Dickins (D-Harlem) also expressed reservations about the proposal, which she said was good in principle but difficult to implement given the sheer size of the MTA’s system of subways, buses, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North systems.
“We want this law. We need that help, but we also want something forced,” Deakins said.
“Gov. Hochul has been clear that the safety of New Yorkers is her top priority, and she has worked with Mayor Adams on the Cops, Cameras and Care initiative, which has already proven effective in reducing crime and helping drivers feel safer. This proposal calls for providing the legal system with the necessary tools to ensure the safety of transport workers and passengers by eliminating those who have attacked MTA employees and customers,” said Hochul spokesman John Lindsay.
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