NEW YORK, NY — Service cuts to the New York City subway and bus systems enacted when the coronavirus outbreak caused sharp declines in ridership will be reversed when the city is cleared for phase one of its reopening, Metropolitan Transportation Authority executives announced Tuesday.
Restoration of full subway and bus service will be one of many measures the MTA plans to take to encourage social distancing on public transit when New York City begins to reopen for some economic actives, MTA Chairman Pay Foye and NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg wrote in a letter to city officials. The city is expected to be cleared for phase one of the state's reopening plan on Monday, June 8, city and state officials announced last week.
In addition to restoring full service, the MTA will remind riders to only use public transit for essential trips, request employers to stagger their workers' shifts, install social distancing markers in stations and instruct MTA personnel to monitor crowding on platforms. Transit officials are asking the city to contribute 1 million masks for riders, provide 3,000 volunteers to hand out masks and hand sanitizer and increase NYPD presence "to ensure the safety and security of the system."
To keep up to date with coronavirus developments in NYC, sign up for Patch's news alerts and newsletter.
"We all share a goal of safely reopening this city and ramping up service on our system. We will need all hands on deck to make this effort a success. Our partnership on the overnight closure has yielded positive results. We will need your help to ensure riders are social distancing as much as possible, deploying staff to platforms and reminding riders to move to less crowded portions of platforms and less crowded cars," Foye and Feinberg wrote in a letter to city officials Tuesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio — who last week told a potential 400,000 returning commuters to "improvise" when it comes to safety on the subway system — also wrote a letter to MTA officials Tuesday outlining a seven-point set of recommendations for the June 8 reopening.
The mayor's suggestions include:
- Increasing the frequency of service so platforms don't fill up;
- Establishing capacity limits on buses and trains;
- Monitoring platform crowding;
- Installing social distancing markers;
- Installing hand sanitizing stations;
- Requiring face coverings to be worn by all in the system;
- Directing MTA personnel to enforce social distancing.
"New York City is a mass transit city – it always has been, and always will be," de Blasio said in a statement. "These ideas will give New Yorkers the confidence that public transit is more than just the fastest way to get around – it’s a vital ally in our ongoing fight against COVID-19. I urge the MTA to implement them right away."