The MTA said an unknown assailant pepper sprayed a Long...

The MTA said an unknown assailant pepper sprayed a Long Island Rail Road conductor Tuesday morning on a platform at the Rosedale station in Queens. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A Long Island Rail Road conductor was assaulted with pepper spray by an unknown assailant Tuesday morning while walking on a Queens platform, MTA officials said.

The assault, which was reported to authorities by another conductor, occurred at 9:37 a.m. at the Rosedale station on the LIRR's Atlantic Branch line, authorities said.

The unidentified conductor was removed from the train by Nassau County emergency service units at the nearby Valley Stream station and taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.

An arrest in the assault has not yet been made and the investigation is ongoing. The MTA did not provide an update on the conductor's condition late Tuesday.

“LIRR workers should never be attacked while on the job," MTA spokeswoman Meghan Keegan said in a statement. "The MTA Police Department is investigating this unacceptable incident to ensure the perpetrator involved is held accountable.”

Anthony Simon, general chairman of the International Association of Sheet-Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, the union that represents LIRR conductors, said the assaults on his members must stop.

“Every day our crews are subject to some type of abuse or assault," Simon said. "There are no consequences for this type of behavior. The constant fare disputes are triggering unexplainable violent responses. Something has to change drastically with even a greater police presence and certainly tougher response from the appropriate [district attorney] offices.”

MTA Police statistics show that assaults and harassment incidents against LIRR employees climbed 78%, from 32 between March 2021 and February 2022, to 57 between March 2022 and February 2023.

In March, MTA police charged a teen with assaulting two LIRR conductors when they asked him to pay a fare on a Brooklyn-bound train to Atlantic Terminal.

The 17-year-old, who refused to pay the fare, took a ticket-issuing machine from the conductors and began attacking them, officials said. 

One conductor suffered an arm injury while the other was hit in the face and suffered a swollen right eye, authorities said.

LIRR labor representative Vincent Tessitore Jr. said the recent string of attacks on his members is the most confounding issue of his career.

"I recognize a pattern of behavior in our region since COVID that I just can't explain," Tessitore said during last week's MTA safety committee meeting.

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