The MTA is not A-OK with AOC.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Cuomo calling for him to stop the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to hire 500 new police officers to crack down on “quality of life” crimes throughout the city’s subway and bus networks.
The letter, which was also signed by Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Jose Serrano and state Sens. Michael Gianaris, Luis Sepulveda and Jessica Ramos, argues the hiring spree is a waste of taxpayer dollars that could be better spent on improving transit service.
“Recent reports show that this action is not only unnecessary but also not cost-effective,” the letter states. “The subway system is now safer than before. … The true concern for many taxpaying New Yorkers is the estimated cost that this will have on an already cash-strapped agency.”
The MTA expects to spend $249 million over the next four years to hire the new cops — and transit officials have for months listed fare evasion, homelessness, assaults on workers and terrorist threats as justification for the spending.
MTA Chairman Patrick Foye doubled down on that argument in a response to Ocasio-Cortez’s letter, pointing out that hate crimes, robberies and aggravated harassment have increased in the subway system this year.
“We will not engage in politics when it comes to public safety,” said Foye. “New Yorkers deserve to have reliable service and feel secure on our system — these priorities are one and the same.”
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said, “We agree with the chairman and refer all questions to the MTA.”
Cuomo announced in June that 500 NYPD and MTA cops would be reassigned to subway platforms and bus stops to crack down on violent crime and fare evasion. Those officers would return to their regular duties as the MTA’s new law enforcers are brought onboard.
Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said the money the MTA plans to spend on the officers could be used to increase subway and bus service by as much as 15% in off-peak hours, which, he said, would have a more salient impact for riders.
“Five hundred more police officers, spread across 472 stations, more than 5,000 buses and a whole city, will not transform the feel of public transit,” said Pearlstein. “They will, however, make it harder for the MTA to meet demand for transit service that 8.6 million New Yorkers depend on every day.”
The MTA revealed its plan to hire the new cops in September — and the move will be voted on by the agency’s board Wednesday.
It remains unclear where and how the new flatfoots will be trained.
Police sources told the Daily News last month that there is no room for the new hires at the NYPD academy, where MTA officers have been schooled for more than 20 years.
The “first wave” of new MTA-employed cops will be previously trained officers from other departments who will “receive additional field training when they come onboard,” agency spokeswoman Abbey Collins said last month.
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