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Op-ed | Dealing with a difficult year in the New York City subways

Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg.
File photo/Mark Hallum

BY SARAH E. FEINBERG

This has been an incredibly difficult year for many reasons. In addition to the heartbreaking losses suffered by the NYC Transit family due to the pandemic, we’ve all struggled deeply with the murder of our friend and colleague Garrett Goble — who tragically died after an arsonist set fire to his 2 train on March 27.

Every single day since then NYCT has grieved and mourned his loss. Each time we speak with his wife Delilah our hearts are broken all over again and each time we spoke to police, spoke to Garrett’s mother Vicki, or spoke with Garrett’s friends at Transit, they broke again.

But finally, we can take solace in knowing his alleged killer is being brought to justice. The NYPD has arrested and charged a suspect with murder in connection with Garrett’s death. Nothing can bring him back to his sweet family, but we are grateful to the police for their relentless persistence and hard work on this case.

There should be no tolerance for any form of violence in our transit system. Fires, sexual assaults, assaults on our workers – these are crimes committed against the very best of New York — the brave men and women who show up and serve this city each day and keep us all moving forward no matter the challenges.

Last week, our valiant workforce was tested by the first major winter storm of the season and they came through heroically, just as I knew they would. By the time the storm was tapering off Thursday morning, service was already starting to normalize, and by midday the subways were operating a normal weekday schedule with only scattered delays and a few isolated re-routings on our buses in the outer boroughs. This is an amazing feat.

There is so much preparation that happens before the first flakes of any blizzard even fall. Thousands of people are mobilized to get snow fighting equipment into place across the city, move trains from yards to be stored underground, outfit buses with tire chains, start de-icing, and more. Everyone plays a part in any well executed storm response.

I had no doubt the NYC Transit team could handle it. They have managed to deliver on projects big and small throughout this year, which has been one of the darkest in our agency’s history. Our workers have been the heroes moving heroes throughout the pandemic. Transit’s tireless efforts serve as a reminder that the women and men of New York City Transit are essential workers and public servants in the truest sense of the words. It is one of the greatest privileges of my life to lead this agency and its brave employees.

After all that we’ve been through this year, I look forward to what will hopefully be a better 2021, especially now that vaccines are becoming available and a transit-friendly Biden administration is set to take over the White House. But no matter what happens, I know that New York City Transit is ready for whatever comes our way.

Sarah Feinberg is acting MTA New York City Transit president.

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