Acting MTA Chairman Janno Lieber is looking forward to the change in guard at City Hall, which he hopes will bring with it a more visible NYPD presence in the subways after a rash of violent attacks on straphangers, he told The Post’s Editorial Board on Thursday.
“I am super excited about working with the Adams administration,” Lieber said of Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who takes office on Jan. 1.
“Because he said it to me — he said, ‘I was a transit cop. You know, we’re going to get more officers in the system. We’re going to attack this stuff. We want to deal with issues of disorder. We want to deal with the homeless and the mentally ill homeless, and get them services and get them out of the system.’”
Police have reported a drop in major crimes in recent months after de Blasio surged additional cops onto rush hour patrols at the MTA’s behest. But Lieber said persistent stories of platform shoves and images of “disorder” still give many potential riders the impression that trains and platforms are not safe.
“The perception of safety — the experience of a rider, whether they feel vulnerable in the system — is not where we want it to be,” he said. “We need cooperation with the police department to attack issues of disorder and all the conditions that make riders feel less comfortable, less safe, more vulnerable, in the system.”
The MTA boss said he also pushed the NYPD to be more present in the system after observing apparent drug users attempt to breach MTA property at Jamaica Station in Queens “a couple weeks ago.” He said no cops were on site to handle the incident.
“I went crazy that they said, ‘You know what, you call the RCC, you call the Rail Control Command,’” he recounted.
“They gave us more cops. But the issue that I’ve been raising with the Police Department now, in the last month or so, is the visibility of that police force. Are they in positions or locations where people feel vulnerable? Are they on the platforms, crowded stations where this feeling of risk is felt. Are they riding the trains?”
Lieber said police officials told him they “intend” to address his concerns with increased supervision, but have yet to act on those intentions.
“You want to feel like walking into the system, it’s a public space and you’re in an environment where people are playing by the rules,” he said, citing smoking, not wearing a mask and the presence of mentally ill homeless individuals.
“These issues are pressing for suburbanites, who, you know, are coming back. They maybe haven’t been in the city. They have a little taller hills to climb with the perception of safety and order.”
A rep for Adams said the incoming mayor “is looking forward to working with Mr. Lieber and the MTA to improve subway safety and service — and to get New York moving.”
Lieber, who previously ran the MTA’s construction outfit, was appointed to his acting title by disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo shortly before the latter resigned in August.
Cuomo’s successor Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she will nominate Lieber to a full term.