MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye appeared live today on PIX11 Morning News with Dan Mannarino 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.
Dan Mannarino: Joining us now is MTA Chairman Pat Foye. Good morning Pat, thanks for coming back.
Patrick Foye: Thanks, Dan. I'm not getting into the show shoveling battle.
Mannarino: Oh, no, no, I don't blame you, my friend. So what can you tell us right now about snow preps with the MTA? Already coming down in some areas, as you see, what can we expect, is the afternoon going to really be the worst of it?
Foye: Yeah, the afternoon will be the worst of it. We, unfortunately we've had lots of practice this winter season. Customer, our advice is, if customers can stay home, they should do that, if that option is available to them. We're prepared for the storm, likely to have most impact on buses. All of the 40-foot buses have been chained. Articulated buses, which don't do well in the snow, are in the garage. We're going to be running about 75% of usual service and we're going to be working closely, as we have on every storm this winter season, with the women and men in sanitation department.
Mannarino: Any possibility we can see elevated tracks or outdoor stations closed like we did last time?
Foye: I think right now that's unlikely. We’ll be, obviously, messaging throughout to our customers, at PIX11 and the rest of the media. I think that's unlikely, on elevated platforms and stairways customers ought to use caution because they may be they may be slippery. MTA New York City Transit crews will be out there removing snow and sanding, but people have to be careful. We don't think there'll be a significant impact on subways, Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road. On the bridges, we've closed the pedestrian walkways and we'll be adjusting speeds to 35 miles an hour as appropriate. We'll be messaging that throughout.
Mannarino: Understood Pat, thank you for the update there. I also want to talk about the other big issue which is safety in the subways, right? Happening today, 700 NYPD transit officers are now assigned to patrol the subways following this surge in crime. Earlier this week, right here on PIX11, I spoke to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea who initially said, Pat, only 500 officers would be deployed. Take a listen here.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea (audio recording): We're constantly evaluating the crime picture, the ridership, what's going on and we will continue to be flexible through our CompStat system, where our resources need to be. What we committed to and we thought it was important to put the public at ease, Dan, we announced the 500 officers on Saturday. The days of running together, but I think that was Saturday. We think that's the appropriate number right now. We could throw resources at a problem and put, you know, whatever the number of officers into the system is. There are other issues at play that need to be fixed.
Mannarino: So Pat, the additional officers falls short of that request, 1,000, that you guys actually requested. What was the rationale, let me ask you this first, for that 1,000 officer request?
Foye: That's a great question. Dan, what we did is we went back to the staffing levels that existed in 1995 when the Transit Police merged with the NYPD. At that point, there were well over 4,000 NYPD officers patrolling the, patrolling the subways, actually about 4,300. Right now, prior to Commissioner Shea’s increase of 600-plus, we are at about a 2,400 level and I think the commissioner’s decision to add 600-plus officers was the right thing to do. We firmly believe that we need an additional 1,000 officers over the 500 that the commissioner added and I think it's a question of both customer perceptions and safety. Look, in the month of January felony assaults were up 26%; murder, while its infrequent, doubled in 2020, the number of murders at 2020. And obviously we've had two murders already in the month of February, and kudos to the NYPD for arresting that perpetrator. But also from a customer perception point of view, customers have to feel safe and secure for them to go back to the system. The MTA’s ridership is pivotal to New York City economy’s regional recovery, and we need additional police resources and importantly, additional mental health resources from the City. There are too many emotionally disturbed people both on the streets and in the subways.
Mannarino: So that number was 500, they came out with their new numbers, you still want that to be 1,000. Just the other day on the line there was a person who had a knife. Are there specific hotspots along the train lines? We saw what happened on the line, now there's this line that may be considered more dangerous than others. Are you looking into that?
Foye: Yeah we are, and as the commissioner referred to CompStat, obviously the NYPD’s been a pioneer across the world frankly in the use of data and CompStat. Applying that to the subways is something NYPD does already, but we also need additional feet on the ground to convey to our customers that they that they're safe, that the system is safe, which it is, but also to actively police the system. We need more men and women of the NYPD on the subways.
Mannarino: Yeah and you mentioned those mental health professionals, and I think that is a huge, huge part of this, right? Agencies working together. Lastly Pat, I know we're super tight on time here, but I do want to ask you about that overnight service coming back now. So it's two hours, you'll have a shutdown period. The officers will be involved in this overnight service as well right?
Foye: Of course. Look, I know this is an important issue to all our customers. Dan, you and I have talked about it a long time, we're increasing the service to 22 hours a day. That's great news. And we're eagerly looking forward to returning 24-hour service to the city that never sleeps.
Mannarino: You know Pat, you know, I don't want to say, but I asked you that repeatedly about the subway service. So I'd like to believe that maybe the pressure had something to do with it coming back.
Foye: It's the influence of you, Dan, and your viewership.
Mannarino: Exactly. Hey, Pat Foye thank you for being here, thanks for all you’re doing, stay safe to your workers today in the snow.