Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced legislation in the FY 2021 Executive Budget to expand protections for transportation workers. This legislation expands the list of employee titles who are protected by law from physical attacks and adds further protections by making several forms of aggravated harassment against a transportation worker a Class A misdemeanor.
"New York transit workers literally keep this state moving and the attacks against them are repugnant," Governor Cuomo said. "No transit worker should ever be subjected to assault of any kind, and I am proposing new measures to enhance protections for them and ensure more workers across the transit system get the respect they deserve."
The legislation expands the list of protected transportation workers to also include customer assistance personnel, signal system repairers, and track cleaners, among other additional titles. Currently protected titles include train and bus operators, signalpersons, and terminal cleaners.
The legislation clarifies existing protections for transportation workers while adding new ones. Any form of forceful or violent physical contact against a worker on duty, including spitting on them, constitutes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
These proposals build on Governor Cuomo's State of the State 2020 agenda which includes measures to make public transit systems safer for everyone, including banning repeat and high-risk sexual offenders as well as repeat assailants of MTA employees from accessing the subway, bus and rail systems. This proposal authorizes the MTA to issue orders prohibiting individuals who commit repeat sex-related violations of the MTA code of conduct, or who are high-risk sex offenders (Level 3), from using MTA transportation services for a period of three years. This proposal is in response to a number of recent MTA incidents involving repeat sex offenders.
Governor Cuomo has made significant improvements to increase the safety of transit systems in New York. In April of 2018, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of Operation NY SECURE exercises to enhance the security of the State's train lines and improve inter-agency collaboration. This initiative is led by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, in partnership with the State Police, Amtrak and MTA Police, and local law enforcement, and includes explosives detection canine sweeps, increased security presence onboard trains, and platform patrols. In June of 2019, the Governor announced an agreement to add additional uniformed officers to subway and bus systems in New York City. This partnership - between the State, City, Manhattan District Attorney's Office, New York Police Department, and MTA - will enhance public safety for the City's transit systems and target enforcement efforts to address assault of transit workers and fare evasion.