MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye appeared live today on WCBS 880 with Steve Scott to discuss winter storm preparations, the phased reopening of overnight subway service and the MTA’s request for 1,000 additional NYPD officers to patrol the transit system.
A transcript of the interview appears below.
Steve Scott: At 7:04, we go live with the Newsline, MTA Chairman Pat Foye is with us. Mr. Foye, good morning. Let's start with storm preparations. I know snow can sometimes wreak havoc with outdoor rail service and also the bus lines, how are you prepping?
Patrick Foye: So, we've had lots of practice this winter. Steve, it seems like we've got a blizzard or a storm every week. Customers should stay home if that's an option. The service that's most likely to be affected is buses. We have chained all our 40 seat buses. Articulated buses we've taken off the road. We'll be running about 75% of usual service. We expect that the number of customers will be down dramatically. And as we have done effectively this winter season, we'll be working closely with the sanitation department, the men and women in the sanitation department, to get buses through. We don't expect there'll be a significant impact on the subway or commuter rail service. As the storm begins, we've already closed pedestrian walkways on our bridges and will reduce speeds to 35 miles an hour. As appropriate, we'll be noticing that too, all of that, to the public.
Scott: Now, something you and I have talked about often, overnight subway service. You're phasing in increased overnight service starting on Monday, tell us about that?
Foye: Yeah, no, this is great news. We're increasing service Monday morning, February 22. We're going from a four-hour closure for disinfecting subway stations and cars to two hours. That is good news for our customers. Frankly, the periods that we're now going to be running subway service is accounted for about 75% of the customers traveling in that four-hour period. And frankly, we're looking forward eagerly to the point at which we restore 24-hour service to the city that never sleeps.
Scott: After a couple deadly stabbing attacks on the subway line, the NYPD says it's adding, I think the number is 644 additional cops to transit patrol. You would like a thousand additional officers added?
Foye: We would. First, the addition of the 640 officers is positive news. I want to give kudos to the NYPD for the rapid arrest and apparently a confession of the man who killed those two people and assaulted others with a kitchen knife. Look, we're looking for 1,000 additional police officers. The MTA service is going to be pivotable, pivotal to the recovery of the New York City regional economy. People have to feel safe and secure from a COVID point of view and from a public safety point of view. We've done a pretty good job together with, frankly, our customers. Mask compliance on the subways, buses, commuter rails is well over 95%, that's terrific, that's terrific news. We're disinfecting stations and subway cars and commuter rails multiple times, multiple times a day. We're going to continue that. From a public safety point of view it's really important that the system be safe and that our customers feel it’s safe. The incidents over the weekend on the were horrific. Crime is up, for instance in the month of January, felony assaults were up 26%. Obviously, the system is safe. Murders are frankly infrequent, but in February we've had two already. The reason that we're focused on the thousand, Steve, is when the Transit Bureau, when the Transit Police merged with the NYPD in 1995, there were over 4,000 police officers patrolling the MTA system. We need to get back to that number, and the city has an obligation to provide that policing service to our to our customers and frankly to our employees, along with mental health resources because there are clearly a number of people, both on the streets and in the subways, that are emotionally disturbed and need help.
Scott: MTA Chairman Pat Foye, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.
Foye: Thank you.