“New York Rides Together.”
That's the message the MTA is sending to millions of daily commuters in a new ad campaign promoting tolerance and giving riders a phone number and email address to report graffiti, harassment or assault motivated by hate.
“We kind of need it honestly. Because the police and law enforcement can't be everywhere so it's good to have a whole city, just everyone looking out for one another,” said one commuter.
Hate on transit a growing problem for the MTA and its riders.
"The reality is, we have witnessed an alarming increase in hate crimes reported in our subways and buses," said MTA chairman Pat Foye.
The latest bias attack in the subway against a transgender woman allegedly insulted with slurs, spat on, hit, and her phone smacked out of her hand, by a man and a woman, while riding a train at the 155th St.
The woman reported her assault on social media. Police arrested the man suspected of the attack.
"Trans Lives Matter,” said Kiara St. James, co-founder/director, New York Transgender Advocacy Group.
One transgender advocate said many attacks go unreported.
"It's something that, it will empower folks to come out of the shadows and to really report when they see hate crimes or they experience hate crimes themselves,” said St. James.
The NYPD Transit Bureau's hate crimes task force recorded 75 cases in 2019, a 42% increase over the prior year. There were 26 hate crimes investigated on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.
More than half of the bias crimes on subways and buses, 47 were anti-Semitic, almost double the previous year. It's an increase seen above ground, as well.
"Everyone should have a program like this. We cannot let the normalization continue, we cannot let young people think the climate that they're experiencing is the new norm," said Evan Bernstein, VP, Northeast Division, Anti-Defamation League.
The ads will play across 6,500 screens in the subway and on buses and more than 500 on the commuter rail roads.