NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The subways are only supposed to be for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, but conductors say the trains are filthier than ever.

The MTA says only about 5% of its regular ridership is taking the subway during this pandemic, and that’s made up of people who work in hospitals, grocery stores and every other essential service.

But conductors say the subway has become a homeless shelter and social distancing is nearly impossible.

RELATED STORY: Coronavirus Closure? New York City Council Members Request Temporary Shutdown Of Subway, Bus Service

Cell phone video shows subway cars lined with people passed out, using shoes as pillows, not wearing masks, with trash piled in shopping carts.

“There is an astronomical amount of homeless people now in the subway,” MTA train conductor Tramell Thompson said. “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now the Metropolitan Transmission Authority. They are transporting this virus.”


The MTA has been urging that only essential workers who rely on mass transit ride the subway during the pandemic, and service has been cut to about 75%.

But one conductor, who asked to remain anonymous, says that’s only making the trains less sanitary.

“Because we have less trains to work with, the homeless in the system congregate on fewer trains, so it’s way more evident now than it’s ever been,” the conductor told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “It’s causing a hazard to MTA employees and the people that we have to transport during this time.”

RELATED STORY: Video Shows Homeless Taking Over Car After Car On No. 2 Subway Line

The MTA says since early March, the entire fleet of subway cars and buses gets disinfected every 72 hours, but its conductors tell us they’re not seeing that.

“The trash, the feces, the urine, is there. It’s just a very toxic, unsafe environment,” Thompson said.

“We’ll get a call from someone on the train. They’ll press the passenger intercom and one of them is urinating in the cars,” the anonymous conductor said. “And because we have so few trains, we have to ride back and forth.”

An NYPD spokesperson says officers are patrolling the subways, but, “Without a doubt, disruptive passengers are more visible now and burglaries are up.”

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

On Wednesday, acting head of the Transit Authority Sarah Feinberg said she’s urging the city to take more aggressive steps to address the problem.

“It is without a doubt a city obligation and responsibility,” Feinberg said. “It’s safe to say everyone here is losing patience.”

That prompted this response from Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.

“I don’t understand what she’s saying because the NYPD has been out there in force trying to address this issue … If she’s losing patience, I don’t know why she hasn’t called me,” the mayor said.

While officials are finger-pointing, more than 50 transit workers have died from COVID-19.

“I just want them to take us seriously, to take our health seriously,” the anonymous conductor said.

Transit sources tell CBS2 that Feinberg has asked repeatedly for a meeting with the mayor, but so far de Blasio hasn’t obliged.

Comments (31)
  1. Artful Zombie says:

    Should 72 hours be the amount of time between disinfecting the cars?

    Is the Mayor of NYC aware of how long between cleanings during a major pandemic?

    These people are telling the world they are the best people to have in charge at a time like this, yet…72HOURS BEFORE SANITIZING A PRIME SOURCE FOR SPREADING THE VIRUS.

    This lock down is not about keeping us safe from a virus.

    1. CYRUS says:

      Like I have been saying, you need to rely on your own common sense and intelligence during this pandemic. ,This is just another terrible example of poor leadership in this City, and will keep the pause going on longer as more are infected.. They claim they care so much about essential workers forced to go out there, but make them put up with this dangerous nonsense.

      1. CYRUS says:

        Do your job, mayor and city council. We could care less about open streets and other fancy nonsense compared to these urgent issues!.

  2. seth rich says:

    News flash, NYC is a cesspit, shock!!!

  3. suzbo says:

    They offered to take in anyone and now there’s some surprise at how things worked out.

  4. Fran Ryan says:

    Soon it will get as bad as the urban toilet San Francisco. But can we really be surprised in Democrat run cities?

  5. John Maynard says:

    Another failing US City run by Democrats!!

  6. Cynthia Johnson says:

    Liberal utopia….enjoy.

  7. Willliam amarillo says:

    Unless we have a functioning public transit.system New York is dead,. More and more people and business will move elsewhere.
    Whatever it takes New York must clean up its subway system immediately that is out real emergency also how can we expect help from Washington when it seems(from the pictures of lour subway cars) that we are not willing to help ourselves.Our mayor touts a parade for our heros, I hope that our mapclif6brave MTA workers are alive to see it.

  8. jim says:

    democ rats wallow in feces and urine they like it they are perverted mentally ill baby murderers and sexual devients

  9. Johnny rom the Lock says:

    Mayor Big Bird and his low IQ School “Chancellor” needs to be arrested. They are both criminally incompetent, having encouraged school children to stay in school too long, teachers and staff as well, and now encourage Americans to rat on each other for daring to walk their dogs yet have absolutely no problem with allowing diseased, drug addled bums to populate Penn Station and the subway system, posing an immediate health threat to tax paying citizens. These people need to be indicted for Crimes against the public.

  10. Steven Phillips says:

    Where all those super liberal compassionate Leftist New Yorkers helping out their poor Homeless and disadvantaged ?! Looks like a Bunch of Selfish Haters of eh disadvantaged in New York city. why are the not bringing them into their warm safe houses ? Hey Gov…and Mayor take in some of those Citizens into your nice comfy million dollar houses and condos you got ? Open all those hardly lived in Penthouses of the ultra wealthy liberals that are always complaining about Illegals and Climate change….You could END homelessness if you forced those multi million dollar trophy penthouses open to Human beings….Right Mr Mayor…Right Como ?!?!

  11. Carlos E Canedo says:

    Im an essential worker. I travel the F train every night. The train feels like poison when I enter. Even worse I have yet to see a cop in almost 3 weeks. The footage I have on my phone pails in comparison to what is being shown. Its not fun seeing vomit, discarded food , urine stains and liquids of who knows what.

  12. The SGM says:

    Born and raised in NJ just across the Hudson from the City and I can tell you from experience (mi 1950s to early 60s) the trains and busses along with the Port Authority Building were always filthy; nothing has changed and I doubt it will.

  13. Commish says:

    Bill – you literally can’t manage to keep you city from wallowing in p*** and s***. You must be so proud! Resign now and go away. Stop enabling the collapse of what was a great city.

  14. Rice Glanmod says:

    If these are not pictures of a failed state, of a failed city, I don’t know what is.

  15. Smarty McPants says:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrates filth

  16. Heinrich says:

    The lack of reports of piles of dead homeless, and the report of higher numbers of infected in NY(mirroring the studies out of California), lead me to believe the media might not be providing truthful coverage of this event.

  17. LibSick says:

    Dirty and sick people urinating and defecating in and around public transportation? Oh, no problem there – new york will have this under control in no time. /sarc

  18. FooManChew says:

    Old news.. trains have been a disgrace for a loonngggg time. I rode the “E” train daily and seen it all – literally. There was/is ZERO enforcement, even after calling to complain.

    1. LibSick says:

      We have ridden public transportation in many countries. We have ridden trains in any other place where the trains are filthy, unsanitary and scary. Kudos New York, you really are the Big Crapple.

  19. Sani says:

    These are the benefits of living under D’Rat governance.

  20. jnobfan says:

    GTFO what are you waiting for

  21. Laker says:

    I wonder when was the last time DeBlasio was in a subway car.

  22. Chris Appel says:

    and no enforcement,,wheres the mayor?

    1. Sam Green says:

      Wheres the mayor? probably on CNN blaming Trump for everything and anything, The mayor should be taking calls and fixing this mess in the subway, then again the mayor is stuck on stupid.

  23. nygrump says:

    The City AND State have used the subways as a storage facility for homeless and mentally ill for decades. Cuomo, as usual, is behind the curve.

  24. Joseph Peter Campbell says:

    Human animals need to be purged from the civilized world…

  25. Top Cat NYC 1977 says:

    NYC = filthy, disgusting third world sh-it-hole. Born and raised here, and finally getting the hell out of this sewer next month. I encourage all decent people to do the same if you can.

  26. Thomas S Flynn says:

    Ain’t public transit great? I don’t know a town where bums don’t use the trains and stations as toilets.

  27. Wayne Wong says:

    Mayor Warren Wilhelm Jr,

    Use your real name since it is disrespectful of brushing aside the name your parents gave you. Obviously you are just like the dummy in the White House. The homeless are amok in the transit system.

    Why don’t you be brave for once in your lying life and ride the E train. Odds are you will vomit the first second you see Mayor Wilhelm.

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