Women that work for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority are going to work in fear. In the recent months, there has been a surge in attacks against women who operate New York City’s buses and trains.
In April, two female MTA workers were splashed in the face with urine while on the job. First, the perpetrator threw urine in train conductor Lucinda Donley’s face. The attacker then hauled the bodily fluid at Trelles Robinson while she was driving a MTA bus in the Bronx.
“Honestly I don’t want to go back,” Lucinda Donley told NBC. “I don’t feel I’m protected on the train.”
The same month, a 33-year-old conductor was stabbed while in a Bronx train station.
This month, a 42-year-old MTA train conductor named Sandra ( she didn’t reveal her last name), was punched in the face at the end of her shift in Brooklyn.
“I’m not the only person from the MTA that has been hit or attacked,” she told the New York Daily News. “People have been spat on, slapped, punched, had human feces thrown at them. This is not right. I’m asking for someone to do something. I don’t want any of my brothers and sisters to have to go through this like I did.”
“I’ve asked NYPD to step up patrols in response to the subway incident in addition to our prior request to increase police presence on buses,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford said in a statement.
In 2018, there were 10 attacks against MTA workers. This year, there have already been eight. I take the train and bus daily and I have yet to see a police presence. There are cameras on the buses, however that doesn’t protect the drivers and conductors while they are getting attacked.
Women on the job have been in dangerous situations before these unfortunate attacks. It makes me wonder what the efforts to protect MTA workers were like before these incidents. It makes me worry about the women who are forced to go to work feeling anxious because they are not protected and they never know what a rider may do to them. Jobs must offer a level of security to their employees, and it seems that the MTA has been failing at that.
An issue that also causes unsafe conditions for MTA workers is the homeless crisis. The train stations offer shelter to homeless people and a good percentage of them are mentally ill. New York City has a homeless population of over 76, 501 and counting according to last year’s HUD report. I have friends who work for the MTA and they have told me stories about feeling physically threatened while trying to get homeless people off of the train. They have dealt with crises that have also threatened their physical health as well. One worker told me a stomach-turning story of a time she had to address a situation where a mentally ill person spread his feces all over the train and emergency brake. I have heard other stories where men on the train have made workers fear that they would be attacked by them. While being verbally abused as they handle the situations, it alarms me that they are handling these problems alone. Plus, if they need back up, it doesn’t come that quickly. These accounts were told to me by women.
Workers like Donley, Sandra and Robinson transport millions of people on a regular basis and are essential to the functioning of this city. This spike in attacks also makes the job look less appealing and dangerous. No one wants to come to work and not feel protected. If workers like them do not feel safe enough to come to work to help over four million people travel everyday where will that leave the city?