November 20, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Both mass transit workers and the MTA are being urged to increase their vigilance against possible terror attacks this week in the wake of recent events in Paris, France and a new ISIS video threatening New York City.
John Samuelsen, head of the union representing transit workers, is urging the 36,000 members who keep the city’s trains and buses rolling, to be especially aware of suspicious people in restricted areas and train emergency brakes that are pulled. Overall, transit workers are being advised to “Scrutinize your surroundings for any suspicious packages or individuals.”
“As the horrific and tragic events in Paris have shown, there are lunatics out there who have no regard for human life and will go to great lengths to commit unspeakable atrocities,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said in a statement. “They’ve already threatened to strike in NYC, the heart and soul of the United States. As Transit Workers, we must be more vigilant and alert than ever before. We truly are the eyes and ears of this transit system.”
Authorities here say that the new ISIS video warning of an attack on NYC similar to the ones that took place in Paris, does not represent a “current or specific threat” to the city, but increased security measures are being taken.
In addition to urging transit workers to be more vigilant, Samuelsen is also calling on the MTA to put additional personnel in stations, especially stations bordering underwater tunnels and bridges, and to report any unauthorized persons entering tunnels.
The union leader is also calling on the MTA to increase inspections of emergency exits in tunnels to ensure they are properly lit and free of tripping hazards, and to ensure they are secured so they cannot be entered from the street by unauthorized persons.
Samuelsen is also calling on the NYPD to beef up security on subway trains themselves, as well as subway stations.
In addition to those precautionary measures, Samuelsen also wants the MTA to form a special security committee comprised of management and workers to brainstorm possible security weak spots and solutions.
“We must look after one another,” Samuelsen said. “We must protect each other and ensure that we all make it home safely each day.”
Increased efforts to safeguard the city’s mass transit system, along with its bridges and tunnels, are underway, according to the governor’s office. Moreover, authorities say that riders will begin seeing “surge patrols, increased step-on/step-off patrols of trains, and random bag checks at various locations.”
TWU Local 100 says that transit workers do, indeed, have an important role to play in helping to keep everyone safe, and that the security measures being urged are just “common sense.”