The New York subway system first began offering its transportation services on October 27th, 1904. The subway became just one part of the entire NY transit system, which also includes buses and above-ground railroads. This system, which allows New Yorkers throughout the state to take almost 3 billion trips a year, is often the only method of transportation many state citizens use. However, in recent years, a whole host of serious issues has lead these normally reasonable and calm travelers to angrily lash out at the very people trying to make the system work: transit workers.
Why Are New Yorkers Becoming Enraged?
In just the past four years, delays and overcrowding has increased more than four times. There are numerous reasons for these delays, including:
Problems With Signals
Several rail control centers have recently experienced electrical issues which resulted in a failure to determine the signals along the rail – the method through which the center tracks the progress of all trains. The MTA was forced to shut down several lines in order to correct the issue, in other places, workers had to manually watch for trains and signal to the conductor.
It is no secret that the tunnels that make up the entire subway system are in a state of serious disrepair. In fact, the city recently announced that it would be completely shutting a portion of a tunnel which the L train travels on for nearly a year and a half in order to make repairs to the tunnel, damage which was initially caused by Hurricane Sandy.
However, it’s not just natural disasters that cause issues in the tunnels – in one case, a collapsed wall caused a train to derail. Later, investigators determined that the wall collapsed simply because it was in poor condition.
Broken Air Conditioning
While waiting on the platform on a hot summer day, most riders are simply looking forward to the cool air provided by the air conditioning onboard the train. But when the air conditioning is broken, which happens frequently according to reports made by the MTA, the idea of being inside of an enclosed hot box is unbearable – and legitimately dangerous. If a rider is exposed to high temperatures of an extended period of time, like those who became stranded during a power outage, they can suffer from heat exhaustion and stroke.
Just this past May, a fire started near the Metro-North Railroad which caused delays for thousands for several days. After an investigation, the fire department determined that the fire started after fuel spilled. The repairs needed will cost $3.2 million and the MTA has pursued a claim against the city, indicating that it was negligent for allowing a business to store that type of material at that location.
Trains and buses need to be constantly checked for worn out parts or damage. If not, the vehicle may, at best, break down and leave passengers stranded. In the worst circumstances, the maintenance issues cause an accident to happen which could potentially injure or kill both workers and passengers.
There are any number of accidents that can result in a delay, such as a train derailment, bus accident, or an accident involving a person being struck by either a train or bus.
Whatever the cause, the fact is that delays and overcrowding are causing New Yorkers to become angry – angry enough to be violent.
Attacks On Transit Workers
Drivers, conductors, utility workers, terminal cleaners, ticket booth takers, and process servers have taken the brunt of passenger frustration. In one case, on July 4th, 2016, a conductor was injured when an unidentified threw a liquid in her face which turned out to be acidic. In another instance, an assailant set fire to the booth a ticket taker was in. In addition to this, other workers are frequently physically assaulted while they simply try to perform their day to day duties.
The Governor’s Response
On August 19th, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation which made it a felony to assault utility workers, station works, terminal cleaners, and process servers. He is hoping that this will lead to a decrease in the violence experienced by so many transit workers.
What If They Don’t Catch The Assailant?
While failing to catch the person who assaulted a worker means that criminal charges won’t be filed, it doesn’t prevent the injured employee from filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation insurance provides the financial coverage needed to pay for medical bills and a small portion of any lost wages. Approval of claims is not always certain, however, with nearly half of all applications receiving denials. This is why workers’ compensation attorneys exist – to assist injured workers. By working with an attorney, an applicant is more likely to obtain the approval they need the first time around. Attorneys can also represent their clients in any appeal hearings and can take care of any communication with the insurance company.