Passed-out passengers, trash, urine fill subway cars amid coronavirus crisis
Maybe the mayor needs to check out these images.
The subway has become a filthy, deadly homeless shelter on rails, according to disgusted transit workers who have taken to recording and photographing the horrid conditions.
One video shot earlier this month shows cars of homeless men and women stretched out and slumbering away on an E train. In another filmed Thursday, a man puffs on a cigarette while standing on an E car. A homeless woman was photographed sitting on a 2 train mid-afternoon Wednesday next to an overflowing grocery cart and plastic bags.
And in one video, a man uses the space between the cars on a 2 train as a toilet while stopped in a Brooklyn station.
“That’s straight disgusting, man,” the shocked MTA worker who saw him exclaims in a video. “With the coronavirus, that’s f–king disgusting.”
Workers say the transit systems has never been dirtier or more packed with the homeless as ridership has declined with stay-at-home restrictions for all but essential workers.
The images of “essential workers” one MTA employee posted on a Facebook page were of passed-out passengers.
“Thank you, MTA. I have to deal with homeless, mental illness and now dudes from jail. Every f–king night there is a mother f–king problem. … While our trains do not get clean. I have to wipe my own cab and air it out. S–t is for the birds,” the worker wrote.
Train operator Tracey Jackson snapped a photo of a metal trash can, complete with bag inside, that someone had dragged from the platform at Atlantic Avenue on April 7 and placed in her train. Chicken bones and empty pizza boxes were scattered on the car floor.
“It’s reminding me of the ’80s at this point,” she said of conditions in the transit system.
Passengers are equally outraged.
A 54-year-old resident of Middle Village Queens said she had to travel into Manhattan this week for a meeting and was shocked by an 8 a.m. E train packed with smelly and slumped-over homeless people.
“I can put up with a lot. I am a housekeeper — germs don’t bother me. I don’t get grossed out too easily, but this was just unbelievable to see all of those people,” she said.
The woman, who was wearing a mask, said she feared for her own health as she walked through five or six cars before finding one where she felt she could breathe. She said the homeless passengers were not wearing masks.
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair on people that have to go to work. It’s not fair on the homeless people,” she said. “Something has to be done. This mayor we have is just completely out of touch with reality as to what’s going on.”
As of Friday, 84 MTA workers have died from COVID-19. Workers get two N95 masks to wear throughout the week, the agency said.
Canella Gomez, a train operator who is out on leave and is a union activist, said he had never seen the homeless situation this dire. He suspected many may be sick with COVID-19.
“I feel like the city is using the subway system as containment for the homeless. You have to assume that a lot of them have it. If they close the system what would they do with all these possibly infected homeless people?” he asked.
An MTA maintenance worker who took videos earlier this month at the Jamaica Center E train station called it the “the coronavirus capital of the MTA system.”
The homeless tend to favor the line because it never goes outdoors along its route to the World Trade Center.
The worker, who puts in an overnight shift, said trains are cleaned and sanitized when they are done with their runs.
“The horror begins when it comes out to the public,” he said. “The minute it pulls into the station, you got the 100 homeless hanging out there. This is where they live. They get on there. They lay down. They use the bathroom. They vomit. Anything you can imagine gets done.”
MTA conductor Adrienne Blocker, 28, said the homeless issue is no longer confined to after dark.
“We see it all day now,” Blocker said. “Now they’re there 24 hours.”
A frustrated Blocker posted photos she had taken of zonked-out zombie riders on Facebook saying “The MTA is basically a mobile hotel for homeless people right now!”
Blocker told The Post that as soon as trains are cleaned they immediately get dirty.
“Besides the hygiene issues, we don’t really know what they have. They’re not getting tested obviously,” Blocker said.
“They’re coughing. They’re peeing. They’re defecating in the cars. We don’t know if they have COVID-19. They’re up in our faces every single day as well as the other people who are taking the trains to and from work every day.”
Sarah Feinberg, the MTA’s interim transit president, said this week that the agency was also fed up and that the city needs to do more.
“It’s very frustrating to have this problem land in our lap,” Feinberg told The Post Friday
She said the MTA had hired more than 150 private security guards in the last week to enforce rules or report issues to the city, and there would be more car cleaning.
“We are stepping up enforcement activity and those efforts now,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg said Mayor Bill de Blasio has not responded to requests to meet her to discuss issues in the system including one made after she was named transit head in late February.
De Blasio insisted this week that “the NYPD has been out there in force trying to address this issue constantly.”
“If she’s losing patience, I don’t know why she hasn’t called me,” the mayor said.
City Councilman Robert Holden and three other councilmen have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to temporarily shut down the subway system to help stop coronavirus transmission, saying the city and state could find other ways to transport essential workers.
“If any image comes close to the pending apocalypse it’s hundreds of homeless, destitute souls huddled and sprawled out in countless train cars,” Holden said.
The councilman encourages riders to photograph the disgraceful conditions to show de Blasio. “He’s in denial because he doesn’t go down there. He doesn’t know what’s happening,” Holden said.
“All New Yorkers must become a modern-day Jacob Riis to chronicle and hopefully embarrass both the Mayor and Governor who apparently have accepted this untenable reality,” Holden said, referring to the turn-of-the-century muckraker and urban reformer.
Cuomo has rejected any shutdown, saying the subway system is needed to move all front-line workers to their jobs.
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