MTA Says Less NYPD Officers Are Helping Get Homeless People Off Subways Overnight

WCBS 880 Newsroom
July 21, 2020 - 7:00 pm

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA’s top transit official says there has been a reduce NYPD presence in stations when it comes to getting homeless people off the trains during the nightly shutdown of the subways.

    NYC Transit interim president Sarah Feinberg says any pullback from the NYPD is felt immediately in the system.

    “The NYPD are really important partners to us.  We have our own police force in the MTA Police.  But we partner really closely with the NYPD,” she said.

    Together with the NYPD, the MTA and New York City have been helping homeless individuals out of the subways and into city shelters. They offer them support and aim to get them into a place where they can get back on their feet.

    "But that effort is not as successful as it can be unless we've got a healthy security presence,” Feinberg said. “And the reason for that is it's just time consuming and it's much more efficient if we've got folks at all of the end of line stations.”

    Ever since the protests over police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd, and cuts to NYPD funding that followed, Feinberg says there's been a pullback in police presence.

    The NYPD, however, said in a statement that homeless outreach has been moved away from the police department.   

    Meanwhile, the MTA is still working to get homeless individuals out of the system when the subways shutdown between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

    During that time, buses, trains and stations go through a deep cleaning process and improvements are made.

    In fact, this week, the MTA rolled out new technology on buses to help keep customers even safer during the pandemic. 

    With social distancing in mind and with the coronavirus still an ongoing concern, the MTA has unveiled a real-time tracker on the MyMTA app.

    “Now when customer go to their bus stop and look at their smartphones not only will they see how many minutes the bus is away, they'll be able to see how many riders are on that bus,” said Craig Cipriano, president of the MTA bus company. 

    He says the pilot program will be readily available and about 40% of the buses in New York City currently have the technology.

    The goal is to retrofit older buses once funding become available. 

    Sunil Nair, chief officer of bus technology, explains the system “uses infrared beams for detection of these of the passengers at the doorway.”

    It can tell the difference between adults, kids, luggage, strollers and even bikes.

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