Subway ridership is down more than 90% since stay-at-home orders have been in place. New York won’t fully come back until people start riding the subway again. So, assuming the city is on the rebound late this summer, what could the subway look like?
MTA Chairman Pat Foye recently went on the Wall Street Journal’s podcast “The Journal” to discuss that issue. The MTA released the transcript. It’s worth listening to the whole thing, which you can do here or search for “The Journal” in whatever podcast app you use.
Here’s his response to interviewer Kate Linebaugh’s question on what the subway could look like in three months.
Foye: “I think you are going to see, everybody, every employee and every passenger having a mask or a bandana or a scarf or a facial covering. I think that’s de riguer and I think there will be great social pressure in every context including transit to wear your mask. I think it’s likely that the cars and the stations will have been disinfected the evening before, the night before, so I think there will be the smell of bleach or the application of antimicrobial products. I think there will be less density on the cars. I think there is likely to be indications on the floor of the subway car as to enter here and leave here, in this area there ought to be no more than X passengers. I think it’s likely that in this time period we will have expanded [the] initiative – we started probably four to five weeks ago, maybe a little bit longer, called the “temperature brigade.” We have a total workforce of call it 70,000. We’ve been been taking temperatures at facilities, subways, buses, Metro-North, a Long Island Rail Road, Bridges and Tunnels, as well – we have taken temperatures of about 18,000 employees. and employees have welcomed it – we have had in that group about 46 employees who have been directed to go home because they had a fever above 100.4. I think that’s likely to continue. There will also be, and there are today protective provisions, devices, and policies in place to protect our employees – our passengers on buses, Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road. For instance, we instituted rear-door boarding on our local buses to minimize contact between bus operators and passengers. We have eliminated cash on subways, buses, Metro-North, and Long Island Rail Road have the elimination of cash. And I think the elimination of cash frankly not only in transit, but across the country and across society I think this is a trend that is going to accelerate even further.”
The city is also likely to encourage businesses to stagger work hours and allow people to work from home for a longer period, to make sure that the subway isn’t too crowded, Foye said.
Is this encouraging? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.