Gov. Hochul signs law extending protections for more transit workers against assaults

June 28, 2022
The law covers 11,000 of the state’s transit workers including certain station and maintenance workers who were not covered by previous laws.

More of New York state’s transit workers are protected against assaults following Gov. Kathy Hochul signing S.9468/A.10491 into law on June 27. The law extends protections to include station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers and supervisors employed by transit agencies or authorities who work with and among the public.

Previous law did not include this group of workers, with the governor’s office saying the newly signed bill will toughen laws by charging individuals who physically injure transit workers with second-degree assault. Officials say the law will also serve as a deterrent to those seeking to harm transit employees.

"During the pandemic, our transit workers were heroes, showing up while everyone was staying home — putting not only their health and the health of their families at risk, but also risking their lives as subway crime increased," Gov. Hochul said. "New York's transit workers have always been there for us and now it is our job to be there for them. No one should be subjected to physical violence or harassment in the workplace, and today we are taking an important step in protecting the men and women who keep our subways and buses running."

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) weekly data tracking, the number incidents of assault and harassment against transit employees, total incidents of assault and harassment is down nearly seven percent the first 24 weeks of 2022 versus the same time frame in 2021. Incidents of harassment of transit employees on buses is down nearly seven percent, harassment on subways is down approximately 12 percent and assaults on buses is down nearly 23 percent. The only statistic to see an increase was assaults on subway transit employees, which more than doubled by going from 16 incidents the first 24 weeks of 2021 to 34 incidents during the first 24 weeks of 2022.

"Today's bill signing is enormously appreciated by all of us at the MTA; transit workers are heroes who deserve a safe workplace. But the work on the issue of public safety is not complete. New laws need to be enforced so our workers can run the best public transportation system in the country and move New Yorkers to where they need to go," said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.

Union leaders and transit associations voice support of law

Union representatives from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), SMART Union, DC37 Local 372, Transport Workers Union Local 106 and Local 100, as well as representatives from the Association of Commuter Rail Employees and Subway Surface Supervisors Association all offered their support of the law.

TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said, "Transit workers come to work to do a job, not wind up in the emergency room. We deserve respect from riders and from the law. Thank you, Governor Hochul and members of the State Legislature for recognizing that assaults against transit workers are an ongoing problem that need to be addressed. This is a step in the right direction. Prosecutors and judges must now do their job and hold people accountable for their actions."

A conviction of second-degree assault in New York carries a minimum sentence of two years, a maximum of seven years and a fine of up to $5,000.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.