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Transit Union Calls For More Protection, Harsher Penalties After Subway Conductor Stabbed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The stabbing of an Metropolitan Transportation Authority conductor in the Bronx has some workers saying they need more protection.

The conductor was stabbed out of nowhere while he was just doing his job. But the way he reacted has led a lot of people to call him a hero.

"I'm doing fine. I just want to get some rest. I'm doing fine," said the 33-year-old victim, who didn't want to reveal his name.

He left Lincoln Hospital on Monday after surviving being stabbed on a train platform.

"I don't live in fear," he said.

Just before 11 a.m. on Sunday the conductor was on duty and sitting on a bench on the subway platform at the 149th Street and Grand Concourse station. Police said 20-year-old Walter Rivera started arguing with him and then pulled out a switch blade, seemingly unprovoked, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

"I would definitely say it's shocking. I'm an EMT, myself, so we don't see things like that over here. So it's definitely surprising to me," Bronx resident Karisma Pender said.

The conductor, who's been on the job for five years, was rushed to Lincoln Hospital, where members of his union said they saw him and were amazed by his composure.

"He seemed like he was in good spirits, considering he was stabbed four times," Transportation Workers Union Director of Subway Safety Paul Navarro told CBS2.

"He's very alert and talkative," added TWU Vice President of Rapid Transit Operations Eric Loegel.

MORE: Subway Conductor Stabbed In The Bronx

Rivera faces multiple charges and was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The stabbing comes not long after after two other MTA employees were attacked in the same area. Police are still on the lookout for a man accused of throwing urine at two female workers on April 12.

"We don't feel that we work in a safe environment," Vice Chair of Conductors Chris Drummond said. "Just a matter of time before there's a fatality. Someone's going to die."

New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford said in a statement he's "appalled and outraged by this unprovoked attack on our conductor, a dedicated Transit employee who was just doing his job, trying to help keep NYC moving."

MORE: MTA Subway Worker Assaulted By Suspected Serial Urine Attacker Speaks Out

He also said Rivera "should now feel the full force of justice for this cowardly act."

The union, however, said that rarely happens. Assault against a transit worker comes with a punishment of up to seven years in prison, but the union said offenders hardly get the maximum penalty.

"We become the face of all the problems with the MTA, but it's not our fault. Unfortunately, people take it out on us," Loegel said.

The union wants to see harsher penalties and more police presence on the platforms.

Reported transit attacks between 2017 and 2018 were up 10 percent in the 40th transit district, Cline-Thomas reported.

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