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TWU attacks transit safety; MTA calls the effort overblown

John Samuelsen (Photo by amNY)

Safety hazards, some of them serious, are crying out for attention across the transit system, according to the new leaders of the Transport Workers Union Local 100.

In one of its first moves since assuming office last week, union officials began fanning out across the buses and subways to assess safety problems and are demanding they be corrected.

“We do intend to enforce safety in ways that the previous administration didn’t,” said John Samuelsen, TWU’s incoming president.

Early Monday morning, union officials found 18 buses in use with maintenance problems at the Kingsbridge Depot, which houses buses used on busy Bronx and Manhattan lines like the M100 and Bx1. The problems ranged from “relatively minor to serious defects,” Samuelsen said, including a burnt-out headlight, loose mirror and faulty signal.

Buses hit the streets with defects “more often than folks realize,” Samuelsen said.

The buses were pulled before they hit the road, causing service interruptions, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said.

Still, Seaton chalked up the findings to a whole lot of nothing, with only six of the defects serious enough to warrant pulling the buses. The problems went undetected because bus drivers hadn’t reported them at the end of their shifts, Seaton said.

“Buses do not go out in an unsafe condition,” Seaton said.

The purchasing of hundreds of new buses and train cars has caused service breakdowns to sink to historic lows, according to MTA statistics. But union leaders allege that some failures go unreported.

In the coming weeks, TWU has pledged to:

- Walk subway tracks to look for rail defects

- Conduct unannounced safety inspections at bus depots and subway repair shops

If the inspections continue, Seaton said the TWU should at least do them at night to prevent interrupting service.

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