Huffpost New York

Occupy Wall Street Gives New Yorkers Free Subway Fares, Claims Collusion With TWU

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Morning commuters were treated to free train rides Wednesday morning courtesy of the 99 percent. "Free entry, no fares collected," read official-looking MTA fliers, while fake MTA agents ushered in straphangers through propped open emergency exit gates.

"I got to the turnstiles and saw a sign on one — a guy was hunched over the other telling people, ‘Don’t swipe your card!’” Steve LeVine, who initially thought the free ride at the Ft. Hamilton Parkway stop was officially sanctioned by the MTA, told The Brooklyn Paper. “They did a great job reproducing something that looked official!”

Occupy Wall Street activists took credit for the ruse:

[Wednesday] morning before rush hour, teams of activists, many from Occupy Wall Street, in conjunction with rank and file workers from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Amalgamated Transit Union, opened up more than 20 stations across the city for free entry. As of 10:30 AM, the majority remain open. No property was damaged. Teams have chained open service gates and taped up turnstiles in a coordinated response to escalating service cuts, fare hikes, racist policing, assaults on transit workers’ working conditions and livelihoods — and the profiteering of the super-rich by way of a system they’ve rigged in their favor.

For the last several years, riders of public transit have been under attack. The cost of our Metrocards has been increasing, while train and bus service has been steadily reduced. Budget cuts have precipitated station closings and staff/safety reductions. Police routinely single out young black and Latino men for searches at the turnstile. Layoffs and attrition means cutting staff levels to the bare minimum, reducing services for seniors and disabled riders. At the same time, MTA workers have been laid off and have had their benefits drastically reduced. Contract negotiations are completely stalled.

What, no free bouncy rides, too?

Police and transit agents confirmed that thick chains with padlocks were discovered at "135th St. on the No. 3 and 116th St. on the No. 6 in Manhattan; Halsey St. on the L, Ninth Ave. on the D, Beverly Road on the Q and Carroll St. on the F in Brooklyn, and Steinway St. and 65th St. on the R in Queens."

The Transport Workers Union Local 100, who recently abandoned labor talks with the MTA and have been active in previous Occupy protests, denies involvement in the stunt. "We knew nothing about it," President John Samuelsen told The Daily News.

And Alan Saly, director of publications for TWU Local 100, although agreeing with Occupy's sentiment, disagreed with their tactic. He told Patch, "It's true that banks are profiting from the transit system and riders are suffering, but we weren't involved in that," adding, "We’re not encouraging anyone to not pay a fare."

Police are investigating but said no arrests have been made. They're also checking if any transit workers were involved.

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