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The discovery comes as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York Police Department address rising concerns over the Big Apple’s homeless population filling up train cars amid decreased ridership during the coronavirus pandemic.
The body of a 56-year-old man was found by transit workers around 9:30 p.m. Friday in a C Train at the 168th Street station in Washington Heights, police said.
Another man, later identified by NYPD as 61-year-old Robert Mangual, was found “unconscious and unresponsive” by other passengers on the 4 Train at the Utica Avenue station in Brooklyn at 8:20 a.m. Saturday. He was pronounced dead by EMS workers who responded to the scene, police said.
Authorities said both men were likely homeless. Their causes of death have not been released.
"These tragedies are heartbreaking and we are fully cooperating with the NYPD on their investigation,” Ken Lovett, the senior adviser to the MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye, said in a statement.
“We have repeatedly said the subways are no replacement for shelter and if these two individuals were indeed homeless, as suspected, it's clear more needs to be done by the city to ensure all New Yorkers have access to needed shelter and services."
In an unprecedented move last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appoints the MTA’s top leadership, announced that beginning on Wednesday, the city’s subway system will be shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to allow MTA workers to clean and disinfect trains once every 24 hours.
Meanwhile, at least 98 MTA employees have died from the coronavirus since the onset of the outbreak, with more out sick in recent weeks, PIX 11 reported.
“Two dead bodies in one 24-hour period is concerning to us,” Yann Hicks, Yann Hicks, an MTA train operator since 2006 and a union representative, told the New York Post. “What it adds up to for us is, what is the cause of the death of these two people? Is it coronavirus? Overdose?
“I don’t really want to ride the trains for free anymore because I’m afraid to ride the train,” he said. “The trains are overwhelmed with homeless and you never know what’s going to happen. I have to walk through seven to 10 cars just to find a clean car, and be socially distant from vagrants on seats.”