MTA adding 500 officers to fix homeless problem

Cracking down on homelessness in subway stations, trains and buses is one of the many reasons why New York City Transit President Andy Byford said the MTA is hiring 500 new transit police officers.

"A, the subway is not the place for people to effectively live and b, I owe my customers a safe clean pleasant traveling environment," Byford said.

By nearly doubling the number of MTA police working, "they assist us in getting homeless people to get off the trains and get off the stations," Byford said. "There must then be a handover to city personnel who will properly then convey homeless people to an appropriate place."

The officers will also work to enforce quality of life crimes on the subways and deal with fare evasion.

MTA officials claim fare evaders cost the transit authority more than $200 million a year, but a new investigation by the MTA Inspector General pokes holes in the data collected on fare beaters.

Due to the small number of employees tasked with running the surveys, the inspector general says, they weren't fulfilling the full scope of the investigation.

Some interpret that to mean there are even more fare evaders than previously thought, others says there are less. Regardless, "this is an issue we can't ignore," Byford said.

This comes as MTA officials pat themselves on the back for the latest stats on subway on -time performance.

The MTA said 84 percent of weekday subway trains ran on time last month, up from 68.8 percent in August of last year, and the highest rate since September 2013.

"What we have been doing is squeezing every possible ounce of performance improvement out of existing infrastructure and out of existing equipment, but we still have, in many cases, you know 100-year-old equipment," Byford said.