Saboteurs struck at two bus depots in recent weeks, vandalizing and disabling more than two dozen buses, authorities said Monday.
In the stealth attacks – which officials think were carried out by disgruntled workers – the vandals filled fareboxes on 29 buses with construction foam, which expands and solidifies, NYC Transit confirmed.
The final cost for fixing or replacing the damaged equipment will be about $185,000, agency spokesman Charles Seaton said.
“This senseless vandalism victimizes both NYC Transit, who must use scarce funding to make repairs, and our customers who can’t ride that bus while repairs are being made,” Seaton said.
The first batch of damaged buses was discovered before the morning rush on Sept. 27 at the Casey Stengel depot near Citi Field in Queens, NYC Transit said.
The following Monday, an additional 12 buses buses were discovered in the same condition at the LaGuardia depot in East Elmhurst, Queens, the agency said.
The sabotage comes at a time when labor-management relations are particularly sour. The MTA’s NYC Transit division this year has laid off hundreds of bus drivers, slashed service and moved aggressively to curb driver overtime.
“We believe it’s inside people doing this,” one source familiar with the vandalism in depots said.
Jim Gannon, spokesman for Transport Workers Union Local 100, doubted the vandalism was the work of bus workers.
“Our people wouldn’t do this stuff,” Gannon said. “They know it’s a terminable offense, and I’m sure there’s a lot of disgruntled riders out there who are upset having the fare hiked.”
Daneek Miller, president of ATU Local 1056, which represents workers at the Stengel depot, said such vandalism “is not something we encourage or condone.”
The NYPD and MTA inspector general’s office are investigating, officials said.