For several hours, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was oblivious to the fact that someone had driven off in one of their empty buses. Bus No. 1010 was swiped by a merry bandit just before Christmas from the Bronx terminal and driven to Queens and back.
Officials estimate that the bus was taken before 8 pm last Sunday and it was found a few blocks from the Bronx terminal after 4 am when the MTA checked its location on GPS. The bus had been parked at Westchester and Prospect avenues, a half a mile from where it was stolen, police say.
“I heard about this and I thought that was a joke. You’ve got to have some balls to steal a big-ass bus and drive it all the way the f–k to Queens,” a bus driver told The Post. “The problem is, you have a lot of people who have a fantasy about driving a city bus, and when you leave a bus out there in the open with no one inside, you’re at risk of someone stealing it.”
The thief was able to easily steal the bus since city buses don’t need keys to start, according to the driver. “They’re push-start buses,” he said. “You don’t even need a keyless fob. Anyone can just climb into a bus and push the button and drive wherever the hell they want. It’s a big problem.”
This isn’t the first time the MTA has had a bus stolen. Darius McCollum, 53, has been arrested at least 30 times since he was 15 for unlawfully driving MTA trains and buses. In 2016, McCollum, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, was committed to a psych ward by a judge after he was arrested for stealing a Greyhound bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal and driving its passengers to their Pennsylvania destination.
The MTA, the largest public transit authority in the US. serves 12 counties in New York, as well as two counties in southwestern Connecticut, carrying 11 million passengers each day. The agency has done little to update their safety measures following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2002, they introduced the slogan "If you see something, say something," which relies upon passengers to monitor the safety of its public transportation system.
Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the MTA given its unreliability and overcrowding problems. The order was particularly aimed at the New York City Subway, which is severely dilapidated with many parts of the system more than 100 years of age.
The governor’s report also found that only 65% of weekday trains reach their destinations on time, the lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s. The average speed of New York City buses is 7 to 8 miles per hour, the slowest of any major bus system in the US.
The NYPD is currently investigating last Sunday’s incident, and the MTA has refused to comment.