NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As temperatures plunge, some subway riders say they’re seeing more and more homeless people seeking shelter inside subway cars.
This winter, commuters say the problem has gotten so bad they’re left with no seats to use.
Vagrants turning half of a subway car into their home, filling it with bags, boxes, and clothes.
In others, benches being used as beds.
Edwin Rivera says it’s why he has trouble finding a seat on the 2 train from 149th Street and Third Avenue in the Bronx to his job near Columbus Circle.
“Five, 5:30 in the morning… you get in the car… there’s somebody sleeping there. Two, three, four people sleeping in different cars,” Rivera described.
“The smell is terrible… Sometimes they defecate on themselves and you have to leave that car.”
Samuel Santos says it also happens on the A train when he gets on at 181st Street.
“A lot of times you’re standing because you don’t want to sit down,” Santos explained.
F train commuter Andrew Quinn says he’s notified conductors.
“They tell you ‘yeah I know and I’ve reported it and I just have to keep the trains moving,’” the Park Slope resident claimed.
CBS2 showed the videos to NYPD commissioner James O’Neill Monday.
“As I look at these videos, of course they’re disturbing. You’re not supposed to be laying down on the subway… if you’re taking up one seat you’re not committing any violations, that’s fine,” O’Neill said. “There are things we can do. This doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of a violation, a summons, or an arrest.”
“I wonder if the police commissioner has been on the subway recently when they’ve seen this,” Andrew Quinn added. “I would like to see more police… Right now they’re using it as a as a shelter and it’s taking away from people on the subway who’ve actually paid to use it for what the subway is for.”
CBS2 also showed the videos to the MTA. A spokesperson would not answer our questions and only referred us to the Bowery Residents Committee, a non profit that does outreach to the homeless on the subways, which did not return our calls either.
An MTA spokesperson added “The NYC Transit rules of conduct prohibit certain behavior; The rules are enforced by NYPD.”
You can read those rules by clicking here.
Back in October, the city’s Transit Authority president Andy Byford said he ordered his station managers to work with the NYPD and the Department of Homeless Services to stop the city’s growing homeless popular from overrunning trains.
A day after the MTA spokesperson’s refusal to comment, the agency released a statement backing the highly criticized Transit Authority leader.
“President Byford has repeatedly said that homelessness is a societal problem that demands a multi-agency approach, balancing everyone’s right to a clean, safe, and comfortable experience on public transit with the need to get people the help they need. We rely upon the NYPD to enforce the Transit Rules of Conduct and partners like the Department of Homeless Services and Bowery Residents Committee to help holistically respond to this citywide crisis.”
Three months later, how the situation is still being tolerated remains unclear.
“Roll their sleeves… Get out from their office… MTA or maybe the mayor’s office and help us,” Samuel Santos pleaded.