MTA may turn to ‘broken windows strategy’ to keep windows on 7 train intact

Windows on a 7 train representing just one incidence of vandalism on the subways. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

After suffering $300,000 of damages in the subways from more than 400 cases of vandals smashing windows, the MTA says it is considering teaming up with NYPD to implement a “broken windows strategy” in order to bring the situation under control.

MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren said on Saturday that a tough-on-crime approach will be needed, in a supplement to their effort of increased surveillance, to end the repeated attacks on their infrastructure and their already enfeebled pocketbook from COVID-19.

“Let me tell you, if there’s any time that we think about maybe a broken windows strategy, this may be that moment in time and we certainly would like to continue and work with the NYPD on that strategy if they choose to take them,” Warren said. “We have to take a train out of service when we find broken windows in it because it’s a safety hazard. So for that period of time whether takes is a couple hours or three hours, whatever it takes us to repair those windows, that train’s out of service, which means at that point in time our customers are inconvenienced with long wait times and or potentially more crowding on the platform.”

This recent vexation, Warren said, takes the wind out of the MTA’s attempts to keep their systems running at full service at just a fraction of their operating budget and only about a quarter of their pre-pandemic ridership.

Not only that, but the MTA is running low on their stockpile of replacement windows.

The incidents are occurring at times when the train is in motion, according to Warren, rather than when they are sitting in a depot and windows are being bashed from someone inside the train with an unknown blunt instrument, such as a bat, a hammer or a pipe. Trains on the 7 line are most commonly hit by vandalism, Warren said.

Whether or not the NYPD will deploy plainclothes officers to guard the subways, Warren declined to speculate on who is repeatedly busting the glass which ranges between three-eighths to a half-inch in thickness.

While the MTA cannot surmise as to a motive for someone to do this, they say the most recent incident cost taxpayers and riders up to $10,000.

With a $16 billion deficit expected by 2024 due to ridership loss, among other things, due to COVID-19, the MTA has spent recent months lobbying Washington D.C. lawmakers for a stimulus of $4 billion that will carry them through the rest of 2020 alone.