MANHATTAN — Beefing up police presence in the transit system is never an easy decision, especially when it comes to the MTA.
There are several factors at play, including concern over the quality of service against rider safety.
Several rider advocacy organizations sent representatives out in the rain Tuesday night to send a message: Governor Cuomo’s plan to add 500 more transit police officers to address quality of life concerns is a bad idea.
The $249 million in newly allocated funding, they say could be used to increase services by at least 15 percent.
“Cops cost money the MTA doesn’t have which they’ll have to make cuts wherever they can,” said Mitchell White of Riders Alliance. “More cops means waiting longer for a train that’s too crowded to get on.”
PIX11 News reached out the Governor Cuomo’s office for comment. A spokesperson deferred to the MTA.
In response to the criticism — which includes a letter Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent Tuesday to the Governor — MTA Chairman Pat Foye released a statement in which he argues New Yorkers equally deserve reliability and safety.
“We are seeing vast improvements in subway on-time performance, but hate crimes have risen more than 50 percent, robbery is up 11.5 percent, aggravated harassment is up 167 percent and the TWU has reported an increase in assaults on workers of 39 percent.”
But critics of the proposal say those are cherry-picked stats aimed at fitting the narrative of an unsafe transit system.
“You are increasing the likelihood that students like me and other students of color are going to be funneled into the school to prison pipeline,” said student Nazira Cisse.
The protesters add that more cops will simply increase “over-policing” in the city’s Black and Brown communities.
“There is an unfairness in our system which is only exacerbated by bad decisions like this,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris.
The MTA is scheduled to vote on whether to hire those 500 officers during Wednesday’s board meeting.