Foye: MTA Preparing For Ridership Surge When NYC Enters Phase 1

Michael Wallace
May 29, 2020 - 5:31 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA is preparing for a surge in ridership when New York City enters Phase 1 of reopening. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced New York City is prepared to begin the first phase of reopening on June 8, and the MTA expects 400,000 people will be heading back to work using mass transportation. 

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye spoke with WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace about the agency’s plan moving forward.

Q: How is this going to work a week from Monday?

A: It’s a multi-step, multidimensional program which begins with masks and masks. Every one of our employees is wearing a mask, it's mandatory. Riding the Long Island Rail Road, subways, buses – it seems to me that the compliance by our employees is 100%. Masks for all the customers, as well, the governor has mandated that that's incredibly important. The CDC agrees, so it's gonna be masks, masks.

We're continuing to disinfect every subway car, every bus and every station nightly. We are pursuing some disinfecting innovations which were piloting this very week – ultraviolet light. We're also working with providers of antimicrobials to make sure that we've got the highest and best technology, in terms of continuing to disinfect subways, buses and stations.

I sent a letter out to the business community recommending that all employers in the city of New York stagger their hours and stagger their start and stop times. I’m not asking that it be mandated but recommending it and encouraging. I know that a lot of large and mid-sized employers in the city of New York have already taken that step and that's really important.

With respect to social distance on subways, as the governor has said a number of times now, social distance is not going to be possible on the subways not today, not on June 8th, when Phase 1 begins, but when significant volumes of passengers return. 

So passengers will be able to protect themselves and employees and their co-commuters by wearing masks. if someone doesn't have a mask, go to a different call or walk down the platform.

The NYPD and the MTA police will be available as necessary but we're seeing a high degree of compliance by our customers across the system.

Q: You mentioned the cleaning and disinfecting will continue. Will the nightly subway shutdowns continue for the cleaning?

A: The nightly shut downs from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. will continue while the pandemic continues.

Q: Do you suspect now that the hundreds of thousands of people are probably coming back to work, that a lot of them will need to hit the road before 5 a.m. and what will the accommodations be for them?

A: We have a central connector program in place, robust additional bus service and for hire vehicles for whom the bus service doesn't work, we'll be monitoring that closely. I ought to note that we have the ability – as we did on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North when we announced their Long Island, Hudson Valley return – as New York City returns in Phase 1 of the governor's New York on PAUSE, we will be adding additional subway and bus service that is possible in large part by the fact that over 9,000 MTA employees have returned from home quarantine. That's incredibly good news for each of those employees, but it's also a sign of their commitment and dedication to public service and it will make possible adding additional service on subways and buses.

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