|Punks use ‘kill switches’ to disable MTA buses (259586)|
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Punks use ‘kill switches’ to disable MTA buses
Posted by Gold_12TH on Sun Apr 29 13:37:41 2012Next stop: danger!
Rowdy kids are disabling city buses by flipping an unlocked “kill switch” — a terrifying trend that drivers told The Post is accelerating.
“It’s a growing problem. It happens every day,” said Frank Austin, Bronx Division chairman of Transport Workers Union Local 100.
One rider told The Post her S46 bus was stopped three times on one trip by vandals on Castleton Avenue on Staten Island.
“It was a scary thing to know that kids could shut it off,” she recalled of the March incident.
She said about six teens descended on the slow-moving vehicle, flipped the switch and forced it to a dead halt. The driver went outside to restart it.
The wolf pack then flipped the switch twice more before the bus could get rolling again, forcing the driver outside each time to restart it.
By then, the rider said, she was too scared to remain on board, so she got off the bus.
“Why does the switch have to be . . . where the public can interfere?” she said. “Suppose there’s a bad situation? What do you do then?”
The Post is not publishing photos of the kill switch or revealing its location or labeling in the interest of public safety.
Last summer, driver Tomar Lang’s Bx15 was stopped at a red light at 168th Street in The Bronx when five teens riding skateboards and bicycles approached. They waited for the bus to move before they triggered the cutoff.
“It made people lunge forward and backwards, and the bus came to a complete stop. I was frightened. I didn’t know a bus could just shut off like that,” Lang said.
About 2,027 of the MTA’s natural-gas and electric/diesel hybrid buses are equipped with the switch, designed to kill engine and battery power in the event of a fire. A total of 892 have been retroactively fitted with locks, at about $200 a pop. The rest remain at risk, drivers said.
“We became aware that buses had become vulnerable to this activity several years ago, and we’ve been trying since then to remedy it, starting first in the area where most prevalent,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
All new buses entering the fleet will have locked switches.
A veteran bus driver thinks the MTA made the switch’s location too obvious.
“The MTA is backwards. No one is supposed to know about the switch — but if you print instructions . . . who are you hiding it from?” the driver said.
“It’s a simple thing that can be taken care of,” said a 29-year bus driver in Downtown Brooklyn who has been victimized. “But you’re talking about the MTA. They don’t do anything unless they have to.”
Chicago transit officials have grappled with similar problems. In January, four teens were arrested after disabling the power on a bus and then beating and robbing passengers. The city now locks its switches.