MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye appeared live today on 1010 WINS with Brigitte Quinn to discuss the phased reopening of subways overnight and the MTA's call for 1,000 additional NYPD officers to patrol transit.
A transcript of the interview appears below.
Brigitte Quinn: The MTA Chair Pat Foye is asking for another 1,000 cops. Joining us live on the Newsline, Chairman Foye. Thank you so much for being with us. We had NYPD Commissioner Shea on last hour and I want to play for you what he said when we asked him about your request.
Commissioner Dermot Shea (audio recording): We did surge 500 officers in on top of several 1,000 that we already had. We think we have the appropriate number of resources in the Transit Bureau, you know, that primarily serves the people that ride on our trains in New York City, but we’ll constantly evaluate that.
Quinn: Okay, Pat Foye, constantly evaluating, that does not sound like a yes right now. What do you say to that?
Patrick Foye: So, Brigitte, thanks for having me. Let me focus on the things that we agree with the police commissioner and the NYPD. First, we need more officers in the system, that's a decision the mayor and the police commissioner made over the weekend. They've added 500, we strongly believe an additional 1,000 is appropriate. Second, the revolving door in which the NYPD acts, people are brought to hospitals or shelters, released in their back on the streets or in transit really is unacceptable and is not in the interest of the safety of our customers and our employees. Third is the request for the 1,000 additional police officers would bring us back to the level of NYPD staffing in the subways that existed in 1995 when the Transit Bureau was created as a result of the merger of Transit Police and the NYPD.
Quinn: Okay. Pat, I have to stop you there. About Shea's response saying they are constantly evaluating, so are you confident that the city might then make the call to give you those extra 1,000 cops?
Foye: Well, look, we've made the request, we feel strongly about the request. The request was made on behalf of our customers and our employees who we have an obligation, the NYPD and the MTA, to provide a safe and secure environment. The last point I'd make is that the DAs and the judges have a critical role to play here. We can't have this revolving door, because many of these people who cause heinous crimes have been arrested and re-arrested and they end up back in the street and that's not good for our customers and our employees. It's not fair, it doesn't provide a safe and secure environment. We needed additional 1,000 police, we didn't make that number up, that number is the staffing that existed in 1995. We need to get back to that level.
Quinn: Okay. Well what are you suggesting then about the revolving door, which by the way is something that Commissioner Shea touched upon. What are you suggesting to solve that problem?
Foye: Well on that one, we're in lockstep with Commissioner Shea. That's not an, the NYPD can't change that unilaterally. That's really up to area DAs and to area judges to do the right thing in terms of protecting public health. On that one, we're in exactly lockstep with the commissioner.
Quinn: Right so what are you asking them Pat? How are you asking a change to be exacted in the courts?
Foye: Well the revolving door that the commissioner described, which we also believe is a problem, our world is transit put it it's the same issue with respect to people rereleased on the streets. We need -- in the interest of public health and frankly in the interest of the health of many of these troubled individuals, including the person who's been charged with murder, for the heinous crimes that occurred over the weekend -- we can’t have a revolving door. DAs need to, where appropriate, consistent with the law, hold people who are dangerous to those riding transit or walking on city streets, it's incredibly important to the city's recovery that our customers and employees feel comfortable on the subways, buses, commuter rails, etcetera.
Quinn: Okay and in terms of getting potentially dangerous people off the subways, I'm sure you know Pat, some activists, advocates for the homeless say more cops are not the solution that, they are not the people who should be dealing with this. What's your response to that?
Foye: We agree with that, and Sarah Feinberg and I have asked in addition to 1,000 police, additional mental health resources in the subways, working with the police. I think it has to be a two-team approach, the NYPD and mental health resources, but we completely agree with the NYPD on that issue, more police and more mental health resources.
Quinn: Okay, let's talk for before I have to let you get away in 30 seconds, expanded service starting on Monday. Ridership down during the pandemic, how are you paying for the increase?
Foye: Well look, fortunately the COVID lame duck bill that was passed in December allocated $4 billion to the MTA thanks to Senator Schumer. President Biden's recovery and stimulus bill has additional billions. We've asked for $8 billion, and that's how the MTA’s deficit this year in ‘21, ‘22, ‘23 and ‘24 will be, will be handled. Ridership will come back but the pandemic has caused financial damage way worse than the Great Depression to our subways, buses, etcetera.
Quinn: Now, will it come back? I mean, you know, you hear all the time car sales are up. Do you think some people might have given up on the subways and buses for good?
Foye: I think undoubtedly some customers will change their travel behaviors. I'm bullish and optimistic on New York City in the intermediate and long term. People will return to offices, to restaurants. The fact that restaurants have reopened I think is incredibly important. The fact that stadiums and arenas in New York City and around New York state are going to be reopening is also incredibly important. And yes, New York City will recover from this.
Quinn: All right, and Pat ever so quickly, any projection on when full service might resume?
Foye: Well look, the step that we're planning to take on Monday is incredibly important. It's an increase of two hours service for our customers. As we said, that will be determined by the governor and when he declares the state of emergency lifted or the pandemic over or it appropriate that subway service go back to 24 hours we will do that promptly.
Quinn: Okay, all right. We thank you so much for your time, MTA Chair Pat Foye.
Foye: Thank you Brigitte.