(Bloomberg) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is cracking down on assaults against its workers, seeking its first ban of a rider in New York City. 

The MTA, which operates the city’s subway, buses and commuter rails, is urging the ban of Alexander Wright, who is facing charges of felony assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree following an attack on transit cleaner Anthony Nelson. The assault took place on Aug. 11 at the Pelham Bay Park subway station in the Bronx. 

“Attacks on transit workers are unacceptable and we must do everything we can to prevent them and keep our customers and employees safe,” MTA Chief Executive Officer Janno Lieber said in a statement. “Given the horrific actions of Mr. Wright and his long history of arrests -- some of which were for similarly violent attacks -- this penalty is warranted. Individuals who assault transit workers have no place on our subways, buses, and trains.” 

Lieber intends to send a letter to Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark requesting that upon conviction, a judge issue an order banning Wright from the system for three years, the maximum penalty available under the law. 

A spokesperson for the MTA said that the agency has “personnel in virtually every station, and they’re going to be on the lookout for people who are banned.”

In June, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation to expand the current law from protecting some transit workers to all transit workers. Previously, the law that charges individuals who attack or harass workers with second degree assault did not protect station customer assistants, ticket or revenue collectors, maintenance workers, repairers, cleaners, and their supervisors. 

There were 32 assault and harassment incidents against transit employees during the week beginning Aug. 8, according to data from the MTA.


(Updates in paragraph 5 with further comment from the MTA on the enforcement of bans.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.