Maskless passengers on the Tram has a been a months-long frustration, and cherry blossom season makes it worse. But yesterday, it was clear that public shaming is no longer enough to get RIOC’s bloated Public Safety Department moving.
by David Stone
Maskless Passenger, Useless PSD
We’d been leery, right away, because a crowded 2nd Avenue Tram platform had a number of waiting passengers without masks. And a single PSD officer idled outside, apparently mesmerized by lines of people buying MetroCards. The volume of them not wearing masks seemed of no concern to him nor would it.
Cherry blossom season, an earlier subway attack in Sunset Park and confusion about F Train service to Roosevelt Island brought enough traffic that the next cabin couldn’t board everyone. But determined maskless passengers follow a pattern, rushing on first and taking seats as far away from the operator as possible.
But that wasn’t really necessary. PSD was at its most lackadaisical – a feat in itself for the often indifferent crew. The officer relaxing by the card dispenser kept to whatever he was doing as the doors closed on a packed cabin.
The Tram operator? Not a word about face masks, even as the newest variant has COVID cases rising fast in the city. Even Mayor Eric Adams is infected and now in quarantine.
A passenger tried, though.
“Please put your masks on,” she shouted. “I don’t want to get COVID.”
She directed her plea to the group seen above. To no avail – because it didn’t wake up the Tram operator either.
If the axiom is true that the actual laws are the ones anyone is will to enforce, then with PSD, it often feels like there are no laws at all.
On the Other Side, PSD Fails Another Opportunity
When the cabin landed on Roosevelt Island, the woman who’d pleaded with passengers to wear face masks pushed out ahead and accosted a PSD officer idling in the station. She didn’t get far, pointing out several people who’d just rode over without face masks without his making the slightest move to hold them up for questioning.
But one of the passengers, who stopped on her own, offered her best excuse: “I didn’t have a mask,” essentially a confession. But the officer was not interested in that. Instead, he was preoccupied with telling the increasingly irate woman to “Calm down.”
Expect More Maskless Passengers and More RIOC PSD Indifference
If you are not on RIOC’s weirdly unpredictable advisory mailing list, you probably haven’t noticed that Public Safety is now a sort of cultish protected class within the state agency. Although the department has repeatedly been cited for negligence, management has not responded since a hapless performance by President/CEO Shelton Haynes in October.
But airy email blasts, almost devoid of details, reliably sing the praises of individual officers for doing simple tasks they’re paid to do. At this point, we next expect a hymn of praise for good dental checkups.
Because RIOC under Haynes and Governor Kathy Hochul has become ever more bunkered, transparency and accountability are out. Neither responds to public concerns, and no one is available or empowered to change anything about them.
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