New Yorkers are Pissed About MTA Corruption

New Yorkers are Pissed About MTA Corruption

A crowd gathered outside the New York City Transit office building this morning to protest the injustices perpetuated by the organization.

A crowd gathered outside the New York City Transit office building this morning to protest the injustices perpetuated by the organization.

Photography: Justin Ragolia

Text: Justin Ragolia

During an MTA board meeting this morning, a small crowd of New Yorkers gathered outside the New York City transit office at 2 Broadway to air their grievances with the transit authority.

Though the event was small in size and the crowd disbanded after about an hour of protest, there was a considerable NYPD presence in the area, with a total of eight officers monitoring the scene outside the building. Ironic, considering one of the major points of contention for the protesters was the recent police “occupation” (as one demonstrator named it) of MTA subway stations in an effort to crack down on littering offenses, which has led to thousands of fare evasion arrests, a vastly disproportionate number of them concerning Black and Latino riders. Two officers declined to answer any questions about the protest or the pronounced NYPD presence.

Ironic, considering one of the major points of contention for the protesters was the recent police “occupation” (as one demonstrator named it) of MTA subway stations in an effort to crack down on littering offenses, which has led to thousands of fare evasion arrests, a vastly disproportionate number of them concerning Black and Latino riders. Two officers declined to answer any questions about the protest or the pronounced NYPD presence.

Systemic racism wasn't the only issue in the spotlight, though. Groups also gathered to protest accessibility concerns, with 80% of subway stations lacking working elevators, along with the mistreatment of union workers and poor subway service that has led to some commuters losing their jobs.

John Bohn of The People’s MTA, the group that organized the protest, detailed some of the organization's grievances with the transit authority. At the root of these problems is the MTA's massive debt, $34 billion as of 2015. "Most of the money goes to debt servicing; the money that goes to paying interest to banks that aren't doing anything could go towards accessibility and making public transit free," he lamented.

The activist was even more candid when asked about the systemic racism that undergirds the fare evasion arrests, 89% of them being made on Black and Latino commuters, saying, "They're targeting Black and Brown people... It's a war on them, a war on poor people, and it's not helping anyone to add more cops there."

Today's protest was the first time The People's MTA has taken direct action to confront the MTA about corruption and inaction on part of the predominately white, male board, the members of which many argue do not even ride the subway. The organization plans to attend and protest MTA board meetings for the foreseeable future with the hope of forcing the organization to address these injustices. As of now, though, the transit authority has yet to comment on the group's activity.

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