Attacks on Transit Workers Prompt Calls for 'No Ride' List

22 Dec, 2022 Liz Carey


New York, NY ( – Attacks on transit workers have some officials considering a “no ride” list for violent offenders. 

This week, two transit workers were attacked in New York City, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Both attacks were unprompted, officials said. 

On Tuesday, a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) worker was hit in the head by a man who broke into a dispatch room in a subway station. 

Around 1:45 a.m., the attacker, 27-year-old Alexe St. Fleur got into an altercation with employees in the room, then allegedly pulled out a hammer or some tool, and hit the MTA worker in the head, officials said. 

After the attack, police said, St. Fleur grabbed a backpack and fled. Authorities later found him hiding under a stopped subway train. Police said he faces several charges including robbery and assault. 

"This was a senseless attack on a transit worker whose job is to move trains safely and rapidly so riders can get where they need to go, and we're pushing for the perpetrator to face jail time. I had a good conversation with my colleague this morning and am hopeful for his speedy recovery," NYC Transit Senior Vice President of Subways Demetrius Crichlow said in a statement. 

The victim was taken to a nearby emergency room for treatment. 

The attack comes just days after another man attacked an MTA worker at a Brooklyn subway station. 

Officials said Tanya McCray, 56, was starting her shift and leaving the “crew room” of the station, when a man who was appeared to be drunk tried to get inside the room. When McCray closed the door behind her and made sure it was locked, the man struck her at least twice in the face. 

Officials said McCray, a 21-year veteran of the MTA, fought back, striking the man with her lunch bag, which had a thermos inside. Other transit workers came to her aid and the man ran down the train platform in an effort to get away. 

The attacker, Jean-Francois Coste, 53, was later cornered by transit workers and detained until police arrived to arrest him. Coste, an investment banker with Tocqueville Asset Management, was charged with assault, harassment and menacing. He has since been suspended by the investment firm. 

“Mr. Coste has been suspended from the firm effective immediately,” the company said in a statement. “Tocqueville Asset Management is completely intolerant of violent behavior and, pending further investigation, will take whatever action is necessary.” 

Transit officials said the attacks are unacceptable. 

“We have zero tolerance for attacks on transit workers, and two senseless assaults days apart on employees just trying to do their jobs for the public is outrageous,” said NYC Transit Chief Operating Officer Craig Cipriano in a statement. “We are grateful that the NYPD made immediate arrests in both cases, at Coney Island and Times Square, and hope the injured workers have a speedy recovery.” 

That same day, a New Jersey transit bus driver was arrested after he shot at three teens who had assaulted him, officials said. 

Police said Charles Fieros, 48, of Staten Island, was arrested after being treated at Jersey City Medical Center. The bus driver was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly pulled a handgun out and fired it at the teenagers. 

According to police, the three teenage males had assaulted Fieros while he was outside of a bus. During the altercation, Fieros “retrieved an illegal handgun and shot at the group of males,” police said. 

One of the three teenagers was hit by gunfire and transported to a nearby hospital by taxi with three gunshot wounds to the abdomen. Fieros was transported to the same hospital with head and face injuries. 

In mid-December, officials with NJ Transit started the process of enacting policies that would ban “unruly riders” from the transit system, including a lifetime ban for offenders who use a deadly weapon. The move is part of legislation signed into law by N.J Gov. Phil Murphy in early 2022 that would institute higher penalties for those convicted with assaulting transit workers. 

Unruly passengers who attack transit workers would be put on a “no ride” list for a year, officials said. NJ Transit officials voted unanimously to start a 60-day public comment period on the new policy that would establish the process for the policy. The new rules are part of the state’s Motorbus and Passenger Rail Service Employee Violence Protection Act (VPA), which makes assaulting a public or private transit employee “because of their job,” a crime punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

“I’m so happy and overjoyed we moved this, our operators are the cornerstone of NJ Transit,” said James D. Adams, board member. “It is inexcusable for them to be spit on, hit or screamed at. It’s a monumental step.”

The new policy may be the first of its kind in the country, said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit CEO. The policy comes on the heels of several assaults on NJ Transit workers. Between January and September 2021, the transit agency reported 82 assaults on bus operators and 52 assaults on rail crews.

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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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