Mayor Issues Code of Conduct for Subways, Sends out Teams to Relocate Homeless Riders
By Yehudit Garmaise
“The transit system is not made to be housing,” said Mayor Eric Adams who, at Fulton Street Station in Manhattan on Friday, launched his plans to provide better physical and emotional care for the homeless New Yorkers who take refuge in the subways.
Advocates say that of, course, no one wants to "live" in the subway, however homeless New Yorkers head to the transit system rather than having to face the dangerous environments that many report in the city’s shelters.
“We got so used to the dysfunction of letting people live on trains, that we let it seem normal, said the mayor, who announced a new Code of Conduct for the trains that disallows smoking, drinking, “doing barbeque, and doing whatever you want."
“Going forward, we will no longer allow the option for homeless people to exist in this way,” which the mayor said is “undignified, disgusting, and unacceptable.
“You should swipe your MetroCard, get on the train, and get to your destination.”
While 2,400 transit cops will be enforcing the new rules, the mayor said he will not be criminalizing homelessness on the subways.
“We are not going to be heavy handed,” said the mayor. “We are not going to put handcuffs on you. We are going to correct the conditions that currently exist.
“We are going to make sure people can live, heal, and be cared for.”
“We are not going to wait until someone shoves a passenger onto the tracks,” said Mayor Adams, as he announced that response teams of police officers, nurses, mental health professionals, and community-based outreach teams will connect those in platforms, stairwells, and entrances who are in crisis with immediate contact and care.
Then, the homeless will receive assistance to find places to stay, such as in 1,000 new psychiatric beds that were previously used for COVID patients and made possible by $27.5 million in funding from Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The teams will “treat the homeless with patience and compassion, to diminish their sense of ‘nobody-ness,” said NYPD Chief of Transit Jason Wilcox.
“End-of-line teams” staffed by the MTA and NYPD will prevent “sleeping, unkempt” people who arrive at the end-of-the-line with “shopping carts, clothing, and bags.”
“That is not existing anymore,” said the mayor. “It is not going happen. Teams will prevent people from riding the trains back and forth all night, as though we don’t see them.”
While the mayor showed compassion for those who cannot take care of themselves, he also empathized with everyday New Yorkers who commute on public transportation.
“Riding the train, seeing homelessness, seeing fights, seeing disruptions: who wants to start their day that way just to get their destinations?” asked the mayor, who often takes the subway to City Hall.
In January, Mayor Adams launched first phase of his subway safety plan to better prevent subway crime, when NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced she would deploy hundreds of additional police officers to circulate around the city’s subway stations and platforms.