NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are cracking down on the homeless individuals sleeping inside subway cars and stations.
It’s a growing problem, with safety at risk.
Video taken by MTA employee Flaco Balde shows dozens of sleepy-headed, or passed out, people in subway seats to greet him at the start of his work shift.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called the situation “disgusting,” ordered the MTA to triple the number of cleanings to every night instead of every 72 hours.
“Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before,” the governor said. “We owe it to them.”
A few hours later, the Transit Authority’s interim president, Sarah Feinberg, said the MTA will no longer allow people to stay in a station for more than one hour, people will not be allowed to stay on a train or platform after it’s announced the train will be taken out of service, and wheeled carts larger than 30 inches wide or long are now banned from the system.
“It is completely unacceptable to live in a city where an entire population of people have been left to fend for themselves when they need mental health care and housing services,” Feinberg said.
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Law enforcement fanned out to more than 10 stations Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, telling people using the train cars and platforms for sleeping that they could not be there.
By Wednesday afternoon, CBS2’s Dave Carlin observed fewer than usual homeless people in Times Square, Columbus Circle and other stations.
There were a few here and there.
“People actually can’t appropriately social distance within a shelter system, which is why we need a comprehensive plan,” she said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in Wednesday with promises of testing the homeless for coronavirus antibodies and a migration, pulling them out of subways and putting them in hotels.
“A thousand this week, we are prepared to do 1,000 more each week going forward as the need indicates because we want to make sure people are safe,” de Blasio said.
With the MTA losing billions of dollars during a 90% drop in ridership, both Cuomo and de Blasio expect expensive cleanings, and the de Blasio even wants some end-of-line stations shut down for “enhanced sanitation” overnights.
In response to this, the MTA promises a new cleaning schedule sometime Thursday.