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Medals of Excellence accentuates the positive for MTA workers in an embattled agency

(Left to right) Acting President for MTA Bus Company Craig Cipriano, Senior Vice President of Subways Sally Librera, Ewan McKay, TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano and New York City Transit President Andy Byford. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Going above and beyond the call of duty for the average MTA employee does not go without recognition from agency leaders at the very top.

On Friday, the authority held an awards ceremony that recognized 34 transit workers who had saved lives and prevented tragedy while on the clock throughout 2019, often putting their own safety in peril, according to the MTA.

For New York City Transit President Andy Byford, the Medals of Excellence ceremony sets a different tone for the kind of attention the MTA usually gets; as opposed the negative, the agency gets to accentuate the positive.

“This is a key part of our renaissance as a transit agency,” Byford said. “[Medals of Excellence and On The Spot awards are] a deliberate, exact, 100% juxtaposition of what normally goes on, which is catching people doing things wrong; This is catching people doing things right.”

Ewan McKay, Larry Moreno, Tyrone Hampton, Joseph DiLorenzo, Carlos Rosa, Hopeton Kiffin, David Fields, Christer Beckford and Anthony Mannino were among many who received the highest accolades of the dozens of transit workers recognized.

On Aug. 7, Mannino was working as a signal maintainer near the Newkirk Plaza Station on the Q when he noticed people on the platforms yelling about a woman 0n the tracks. Realizing the train operator would not be able to see the woman around the curve in the tracks, Mannino jumped on the tracks and was able to flag the train which stopped about 3 feet from hitting the woman.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t really have much time to react, I just had to rush onto the tracks. I knew there was a train coming through and that there was a slight curve coming into the station,” Mannino said. “She was disoriented, just sitting in the roadbed for the train to hit her… I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, did what I had to do.”

The woman refused further help after the incident.

Beckford had found a two-year-old child in College Point, Queens while finishing his shift as a bus driver in the dead of night. It was cold winter evening, and Beckford said the child was in pajamas.

“He was just standing outside, shaking and crying so I just opened the door, picked him and put him in the bus. Turned on the heat and took my jacket, wrapped it around him,” Beckford said.

The Friday ceremony wrapped with Porgy and Bess opera performers.

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