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As subway crime soars, MTA pushes to ban certain criminals from NY's transit system

Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS

NEW YORK — As subway crime continues to soar, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is urging judges and district attorneys to help ban “certain criminals” from the transit system, the New York Daily News has learned.

MTA Chair Janno Lieber on Monday called on authorities to enforce an existing ban on people convicted of sex crimes on the system or of assaulting transit employees — which hasn’t been used to date — and to expand the law down the road.

As of 2020, New York state judges have the power to bar people from public transit for up to three years if they are convicted of illegal sexual conduct while using the system.

Under the law, championed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, judges can also issue bans for people convicted of assaulting MTA workers.

“The current statute is plainly too narrow,” Lieber said in a letter addressed to New York state district attorneys in the metropolitan area. “For example, there is no good reason why rider-on-worker assaults are ban-eligible while rider-on-rider assaults are not.”

Lieber highlighted the growing list of subway attacks that have left commuters on edge and looking over their shoulders.

Lieber asked high-ranking Judges Anthony Cannataro, Lawrence Marks and Kathie Davidson to forward the call for enforcement to judges in 12 counties that the MTA serves.

The MTA boss also asked district attorneys to promote a policy of “pursuing transit bans in appropriate cases, including via plea agreements,” as well as designating staff members to collaborate with the MTA legal department.

“We are aware of no cases in which courts have actually used the ban authority created by the Legislature,” Lieber said. “That is so despite a steady stream of disturbing, high-profile crimes in the transit system.”

As of Oct. 16, subway crime this year is up 41%, according to NYPD stats. Felony assaults have increased 17%, with 431 attacks so far this year compared to 370 by the same time last year.

On Friday, David Martin, 32, suffered a fractured collarbone when a violent shove from behind sent him flying Friday afternoon onto a Brooklyn subway track while a group of terrified children stood watching, police said.

In another one of the latest disturbing incidents, Heriberto Quintana died Oct. 17 when he fell to the F train platform at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave. station in Jackson Heights during a fistfight with a stranger, according to police.

On Saturday, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced plans to deploy 1,200 additional cops underground and unarmed guards at certain stations to provide additional security and crackdown on fare evaders.

Hochul promised additional money to increase the number of both MTA and NYPD officers position on trains and on station platforms.

“I won’t rest until the subway is a safe place for all,” said Adams. “People are saying over and over again, ‘We don’t feel safe’ ... Visibility in the system plays a critical role.”