Transit President Thinks People Will Feel ‘Comfortable’ On Subways As NYC Reopens

Wayne Cabot
June 05, 2020 - 2:26 pm

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA on Monday will return to regular rush-hour service as New York City enters Phase 1 of the reopening process.

    Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of the city’s Transit Authority, spoke with WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot on Friday, saying the MTA is working to make sure every single rider is safe when they utilize public transportation. 

    “I think people are going to feel comfortable. The first thing for people to remember is that Phase 1 is not a signal to all of New York to get on the subway system and go shopping,” she said. “Phase 1 is about those essential workers who have been out in the system and keeping us going this whole time, plus the Phase 1 workers – so the construction crews, the folks who are going to be doing the curbside retail. The folks who need to travel during Phase 1 are the folks who should be traveling during Phase 1 and we're excited to welcome them back to the system, and I do think people will feel comfortable.”

    Feinberg notes that the agency has been disinfecting trains, buses and subways every night and the overnight shutdown of the subways will continue through Phase 1.

    “We've spent the last many weeks cleaning, disinfecting, making sure that the system is ready for folks to return, testing innovative solutions to try to keep people safe, making sure that we've got hand sanitizer, masks, signs, everything that we can put into stations to make sure that we're helping to make it as easy as possible for our riders,” she said.

    While city’ such as San Francisco have set limitations on the number of passengers per train cars, Feinberg says that’s not possible for a city such as New York.

    “San Francisco has a very different system. I think BART has 48 stations, we have ten times that number, so that gives you a sense of it,” Feinberg says. “That's not possible for us at this time.”

    The Transit President says the MTA has been looking at a number of ways that people can have space between themselves on the subway, but there may be some instances where crowding occurs.

    “I want to be really clear on expectations: anyone who's spent time in our system, anyone who's used public transportation in New York City knows, it's the way to get around and millions and millions of people use our system every day. So, as the city reopens, as the economy reopens, people have to go to work and so the system is going to be busy, there's going to be a lot of folks there, there's going to be some crowding conditions just like there always are, even in the height of the pandemic when we were really only removing essential workers,” she explains.

    Feinberg says the best thing people can do is be “very vigilant about their mask usage and putting as much space between them and the next person as they can.”

    When asked if the MTA was hopeful more people would take the bus, Feinberg said a bus is a great option, but some New Yorkers might be able to cut out public transportation entirely. 

    “If you have a short commute or if you tend to take the subway or the bus for a short amount of time and then you take a longer trip, consider walking, consider getting a little bit of exercise and a little bit of fresh air before you enter the system, before you board your bus. I think people are going to think a little bit differently about their commute now and we want to try to make sure that we're making it as easy as possible for people to use the system in a way that it makes sense for them,” Feinberg said.

    The MTA notes that buses will continue to board from the back entrances as the city beings to reopen.

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