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A New York City subway conductor says he and his colleagues should receive “hazard pay” for the work they are doing after posting a video showing the Big Apple’s homeless population filling up train cars during the coronavirus outbreak.
The employee was identified by the New York Post as Torry Chalmers – a 25-year veteran of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His video circulating on social media depicts homeless people and their belongings inside each car of a subway train.
“I got to send this to the governor, let him see this s---,” Chalmers is heard saying in the clip.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
“This is what I got to do. I got to go to work in this,” he continued. “It’s not making any sense. It’s nasty, nasty.”
Chalmers told the New York Post that he’s seen the number of homeless people on the subway increase as ridership has plummeted during the pandemic.
“People are scared when the train comes in the station,” he said. “If one car looks bad, they’ll run to another — but it’s the same problem in every car.”
“We’re out there every day putting our lives on the line… We should get hazard pay,” he added.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appoints the MTA’s top leadership, said on Wednesday that he has asked the agency to formulate a plan by Thursday outlining how each subway train can be cleaned on a nightly basis.
“To let homeless people stay on the trains in the middle of a global health pandemic with no masks, no protective equipment -- you are not helping the homeless," he said. "Letting them endanger their own life and endanger the lives of others is not helping anyone."
"Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before," Cuomo added. "We want them to show up, we don’t want them to stay home. We owe it to them to be able to say ‘the train you ride, the bus you ride has been disinfected and is clean.’”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been pushing the MTA this week to close subway terminals every night so the homeless can be removed and the stations cleaned. He also announced the city will open 200 new “safe haven beds” for the homeless.
“Everyone has to get out of the stations, instead of what’s happened for years and years -- that a homeless person just sits on the train, or maybe gets off the train temporarily, gets right back on it, goes then the whole way back,” de Blasio said Tuesday, according to the New York Post.
The MTA itself announced Tuesday that while it’s “relieved on behalf of our customers and employees that the City has agreed to do more to provide safe shelter for homeless New Yorkers,” it should “not have taken a global pandemic for the City to do a job the MTA has called on it to do for years.”
Abbey Collins, the MTA’s chief communications officer, said in a statement that the MTA will be “taking trains out of service at end-of-line and other stations for a short period of time to improve safety and cleanliness while mitigating any impact on essential workers.”
But what she really is urging de Blasio to do is come and see the current state of the subway system himself.
“The mayor should get out of his car and into the subways so he can see what is really going on and solve the problem of his own making,” she said.