Routine egging makes Halloween a dreaded holiday for bus drivers
Kids are smearing the MTA — literally.
On Halloween, bus drivers are spooked by egg-wielding pranksters preying on buses, workers and even passengers in many neighborhoods. The yokes may be childish jokes, but the results aren’t so funny, with drivers getting hurt or having to put buses out of service.
“Once you open that door, that’s it. You’re in trouble,” said Al Vazquez, a Bronx bus driver who has gotten pummeled in the shoulder and head with eggs.
Worrying that the ritual will be worse this year with Halloween falling on Saturday, some union leaders have come up with “Operation Pumpkin Patch.” During the coyly named initiative, a band of workers will be out informing drivers about their rights if they are attacked with eggs.
On Halloween night, kids lob eggs at each other, but they also go after trucks and buses, said Manny Velazquez, chair of Community Board 12 in Washington Heights. The NYPD has stepped up its patrols of the neighborhood on the holiday given the bedlam, Velazquez said.
“It’s been a tradition,” he said. “Every year when you walk around the neighborhood, you see the eggs and the egg shells.”
When a bus is hit, passengers usually have to schlep off and wait for another one. Even worse, some kids launch extra painful hard-boiled eggs, and drivers said they have gotten egg shards embedded in their skin when hit.
Typically, miscreants lurk in the bushes or in bus shelters, and flee after waging their attack, drivers said. Some streets are littered with egg crates after the escapade.
“It’s almost like it’s a sport,” said Harry Wills, a Brooklyn bus driver.
Driving with a dirty windshield is a safety hazard, and the bus department deploys roving cleaning patrols on Halloween to quickly wash off the egg mess, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said.
“The plan includes procedures to counter any vandalism, in particular egg throwing,” Seaton said.
Halloween duty typically falls to rookies, who don’t always know they can take a two-hour break if attacked with eggs. Vazquez drove with a soiled shirt after his first Halloween attack, which union leaders hope to prevent with their pumpkin patch mission.
“We will provide support for the junior members who have no other choice but to be out there on Saturday, as that’s when eggs grow wings and fly,” said Israel Rivera, a Bronx bus driver running for union leadership.