VIDEO: Fed-up conductor records homeless-filled subway train: 'I got to go to work in this'

1010 WINS Newsroom
April 29, 2020 - 9:06 am
Homeless subway

Torry Chalmers/Facebook

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – A fuming subway conductor called on officials to act after he posted a video showing a subway train packed with homeless people—a situation workers say is getting worse during the coronavirus outbreak.

The video posted by Torry Chalmers shows a 2 train filled with sleeping homeless people, who have been seeking shelter in the subway system as ridership plummets because of the pandemic.

“I got to send this to the governor. Let him see this,” Torry Chalmers says in the video as he walks by the train, which is filled with bags, carts and other belongings. “This is what I got to do. I got to go to work in this. This isn’t making any sense.”

Chalmers told the New York Post that conditions have worsened in the subway over the past few weeks as millions stay home because of statewide orders meant to curb the coronavirus.

“They trash the train—it’s too many of them and every day it’s getting worse,” Chalmers told the Post.

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He said many riders are frightened by the state of the system.

“People are scared when the train comes in the station. If one car looks bad, they’ll run to another — but it’s the same problem in every car,” he said.

He said the situation is also unfair to transit workers—who must keep the trains moving so health care workers and other essential workers can get to their jobs.

He said transit workers are “out there every day putting our lives on the line” and that he and his colleagues deserve hazard pay.

At his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the Department of Homeless Services would move another 1,000 more people from shelters into commercial hotels, prioritizing large shelters.

The goal, de Blasio said, is to have 1,000 more people moved to hotels each week as the city moves towards widespread testing.

The mayor said the city was launching testing this week at DHS shelters and hoped to expand across the system by mid-May. He said all clients who were positive for COVID-19 would be isolated.

De Blasio said Monday the city would send more homeless-outreach workers to end-of-the-line stations to try to persuade people to come off the trains and into shelter. He also asked the MTA to close and clean 10 such stations from midnight to 5 a.m.

Complaints and concerns have been building about conditions on New York City’s subways, where homeless people have long taken refuge. Their plight, and the problems it poses for them and others, have become more visible during the pandemic.

“That is disgusting, what is happening on those subway cars,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a coronavirus briefing Tuesday, when the Daily News devoted its front page to chronicling incidents of indecent exposure, filth, people stretching out on seats and other problems on the subways.

Cuomo brought up the issue again Wednesday, saying, "Where the cars were filthy, they were disgusting."

The governor said he told the MTA he wants a full plan by Thursday on how to "disinfect every train, every night."

"Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before," Cuomo said. "We want them to show up, we don't want them to stay home. We owe it to them to say, 'The train you ride, the bus you ride, has been disinfected and has been cleaned.'"

The state controls the MTA, the agency that runs the subways. But the city polices them, and their leaders often squabble over responsibility for the system’s problems.

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Meanwhile, advocates for the homeless have called for providing hotel rooms to people living on the streets.

“What we’re missing in all of this ... is an actual real solution to help people who are homeless and taking refuge in the subways” and are concerned about potentially being exposed to the virus in shelters, coalition policy director Giselle Routhier said Tuesday.

De Blasio said Tuesday that the city has provided hotel rooms to thousands of homeless people who were in shelters. He has said that shelter residents with COVID-19, those who are senior citizens, and those in crowded shelters would be given priority for some 6,000 rooms.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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