Since then, the group has grown from five to eight loyal yellow-shirted borough servants, protecting the city streets, much like the Guardian Angels once brought safety to the subway system during dangerous times in the late 1970’s and 80’s.
Ruiz is recovering from a heart attack that almost took his life back in early June, interrupting the service. But while he recovers, his crew is back on their bikes, operating their late-night walking service to apartments all across the borough.
“When they told me it was a heart attack, it really shocked me. I was drinking too much coffee and Red Bulls and working out,” Ruiz said. “Now I am back and capable of doing what I love again.”
Once servicing around 11 subway stops across the borough, the patrol has since expanded to 80 subway and bus stops.
BBP is now looking for seven additional volunteers .
“We need people who are good bike riders, good people and that is the most important thing,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz puts all of his new recruits through criminal background checks and a rigorous screening process.
“People can’t believe we do what we do, but it’s no big deal,” he said. “It’s just a simple act of kindness and we want people to get home safe.”
In their first month back, the BBP is on call through their Facebook page again, walking customers home on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
They are planning for seven-day service returning next month, and have expanded to places like Fort Greene, Gowanus and Bushwick.
“We walk anybody home,” he said. “If you’re afraid and you want a walk home from the subway stop, bus stop or friend's house, we’ll walk you home.”
Ryan Finger works nine to five at JobPack, a non-profit that helps people find employment, and stays up all night helping people get home safe.
“To me, it’s just a responsibility,” Finger said. “Not just as a neighbor, but being a good human being and being there for each other.”