Massive Assault Truck with Theft Vest, Placard Belongs to a Liar, MTA Says

Sometimes it feels like New York City is just one big scam, and everyone is in on it but you.
Sometimes it feels like New York City is just one big scam, and everyone is in on it but you.

Sometimes, it’s interesting to see what people get away with.

On Friday morning, an eagle-eyed Streetsblog reporter spotted this massive RAM pickup truck parked on Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace:

Size matters.
Size matters.

Our reporter wouldn’t have given it a second thought (after the first thought: “What the fuck is with that massive truck?”), except that the truck’s dashboard sported an MTA placard and an MTA vest, there was an MTA-branded traffic cone behind it, and its license plate had a cover rendering it less readable to toll and speed cameras.

So our reporter did have a second, third and fourth thoughts:

  • An MTA placard? But the agency has looong said it doesn’t issue placards!
  • An MTA employee who lives in Florida? That’s a heck of a commute!
  • Given that Florida registration, there’s no way we’ll find any New York camera-issued tickets on this guy’s truck!

All those thoughts led to interesting news.

“The placard on that truck is a fake,” said a senior MTA official, who requested anonymity, after being shown the placard (below). “There is no such placard.”

But, the official added, the MTA does have placards! Despite multiple past denials, the official told Streetsblog that there are legitimate MTA Police placards, which are issued by the NYPD on behalf of the MTA. Anything else is a fake (and we and others have seen plenty).

The official declined to say how many legit placards there are, but added that those placards “only go to people who are required in the course of their regular job duties to respond to emergencies or otherwise go into locations that may be restricted areas in the course of their work duties.”

If they are misused, the official said, they can be revoked. The official declined to say how many existing placards were not reissued when holders reapplied this May, but said some placards were definitely not reissued because “people submitted forms suggesting they eligible when, in fact, they were not eligible.” The official would not say who was denied, but it’s well documented that one of them was Nassau County MTA Board member David Mack, who believed, wrongly, that he deserved one, and threw a fit when he found out he didn’t.

And earlier this year, MTA Chief Diversity Officer Michael Garner was caught using an expired MTA placard to park illegally in Lower Manhattan, the Daily News reported.

That placard is a fake.
That placard is a fake.

The official believes the truck owner simply manufactured the placard (above) or bought it from someone else who did.

“We don’t know who did it,” said the official, adding that the MTA vest in the windshield might also have simply been bought online or in a store. There’s no way to know from Streetsblog’s picture if it is a legitimate company-issued vest.

One thing is fairly certain: This is no resident of Florida. Even with the covered plate, this truck has been nabbed 63 times since since July 18, 2020, including 17 camera-issued speeding and one camera-issued red-light tickets, all of them in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Very hard to read.
Very hard to read, but the plate is PEPT27.

Unfortunately for residents of the neighborhood, the truck can’t be towed off the street because its owner has only one ticket “in judgment,” far below the $350 threshold to initiate towing. And the vast majority of the 17 speeding tickets occurred before those tickets counted under the city’s Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, which allows the Sheriff to tow away the cars of repeat speeders if they fail to take a city-run safety class. (Chaser: The city has only towed away five such cars since the program began last November.)

So what’s the larger takeaway? As always, our roads are like a cross between the Wild West and a crash test lab, where any jerk can drive any unsafe behemoth truck into the city, rack up dozens of violations for reckless driving, avoid parking tickets by using fraudulent credentials or even clothing, avoid some camera-issued tickets or not pay all his tolls with an illegal plate cover — and have the authorities throw up their arms.

“We don’t even know if this really is an MTA employee,” the senior official said. “If you have the person’s name, we can check.”

The NYPD declined to comment and instructed a reporter to file a freedom of information request to be told how many MTA Police placards there are.