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$2K awaits anyone who sees attack on MTA workers

Assaults on city bus drivers have been rising, and the MTA is posting rewards for anyone who sees an attack on its personel. Photo by Christina Santucci
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If you witness an attack against a transit employee, you could be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000 as part of a campaign designed to fight growing violence against MTA personnel.

“Thousands of men and women work on the front lines of the MTA system every day to make sure millions of people get to work safely,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced Transit Watch, a program to protect Metropolitan Transportation Authority personnel.

“We need to assure they stay safe as well,” Cuomo said. “Transit Watch puts criminals on notice that if they assault a bus, subway or train employee, everyone who sees it happen is going to help put them in jail.”

The MTA will pay for the program.

Attacks against MTA employees have increased from 72 in 2010 to 94 in 2011, MTA statistics indicate. The agency said that just under 50 MTA workers have been assaulted so far this year, compared with 40 this time in 2011.

“An attack against any one of our workers is an attack against all of us,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen said “this is a very positive step forward.”

“Transit workers face physical assaults, verbal abuse and threats every day,” Samuelsen said. “We want immediate action to turn a good idea into reality virtually overnight.”

In 2008, bus driver Edwin Thomas was stabbed to death in Brooklyn by a passenger to whom Thomas had given a free transfer. The attacker was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Those who have witnessed an assault on a transit worker may call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), which assigns callers an anonymous number so they do not have to reveal their names. Rewards up to $2,000 are paid for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the perpetrator.

The MTA has installed cameras in nearly 400 buses to identify assailants, with 1,500 more to be installed over the next two years at a cost of $22,000 for each bus.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

Posted 8:32 pm, May 30, 2012
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