NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are crime concerns on the subway after a recent spike in attacks, and some are wondering if the system is safe for riders and employees.
“This man… Sorry, sometimes it’s still a little difficult to talk about,” MTA station agent Jamila Baptiste said.READ MORE: Subway Conductors Attacked 4 Times In One Day, Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg Says More Help Is Needed
Over the phone, Baptiste described being attacked while working at the Canal Street subway station earlier this year.
“He yelled some vulgar words at me, and before I could even react, he just started striking me with what I believe was a baseball bat, in the head,” she said.
She needed seven staples in her head and is still afraid to return.
“We definitely need more protection,” she said.
The MTA says more than 1,000 transit workers have been assaulted in the last six months.
While transit crime overall is down citywide compared to this time last year, felony assaults in transit is up 17.3% for the year and up 54.5% for the month.
“We got to help encourage people back to the subways because it is part of making the subway safer for everyone,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.READ MORE: MTA Survey Finds 87% Of Lapsed Subway Riders Say Safety Is Biggest Factor In Return To Mass Transit
“When we get people back to work … that’s going to go a long way,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday.
But a recent MTA survey shows most straphangers are primarily concerned about crime and harassment.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke exclusively to Patrick Warren, the MTA’s chief of safety and security, about the concerns.
“That’s a sticky situation to be in, if more riders would make it safer on the subway but most riders are afraid of crime in the subway,” Bauman said.
“That’s why we’re putting more security out there. That’s why we’re asking the NYPD for more officers out there. That’s why we’re hiring more officers ourselves. That’s why were putting more CCTV cameras in,” Warren said.
This week, transport workers unions sent a letter to the mayor, echoing the MTA’s request and asking for more police and mental health resources in the subways.
“It seems like, for the better part of a year now, the MTA and City Hall have been at odds over the subway safety, passing the buck back and forth, and in the meantime, riders are still in the same situation,” Bauman said.
“There’s some rhetoric out there and you may perceive it that way, but the reality is we’re really working pretty closely together on these issues. It’s all a matter of resources for everybody,” Warren said.MORE NEWS: MTA At Odds With NYPD Over Response To Subway Crime As More People Return To Public Transit
Warren says the MTA just hired 100 more security guards and their goal is to install CCTV cameras in all 472 stations by the end of this year.