As New York Nears First Phase of Reopening. Mayor de Blasio Calls on MTA to take Concrete Steps to Keep New Yorkers Safe on Mass Transit

This press release from the Mayor’s Office comes a few hours after I posed a question in front of other media to the head of Testing and Tracing, Ted Long. The question dealt with the Governor and his Budget Director’s comments the other day about being safe in the subways. The answer from Mr. Long was a standard and expected one.

What might I have heard from the Mayor if I got to ask him?
I believe I’ve got my answer below.
Not that it’s the right answer, but what is today?

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced he has sent Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Pat Foye a 7-point plan of concrete, actionable recommendations to help the MTA meet increased demand as New York City begins Phase 1 of its reopening process on June 8th. The recommendations are designed to make the subways and buses a safe, reliable, and socially distant option for the New Yorkers who will return to the workplace next month using transit.

“New York City is a mass transit city – it always has been, and always will be,” said Mayor de Blasio. “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.”

The recommendations include:

  • Increase Frequency of Service: Increase frequency significantly during peak hours while limiting the increase in ridership to allow for maximum social distancing. Return to regular rush hour service for Phase 1. The MTA should prepare to accommodate at least another 100,000 – 200,000 more riders per day.
  • Capacity Limits on Buses/Trains: Limit capacity on buses and trains to allow for social distancing. Skip stops if over capacity.
  • Limit Station/Train Overcrowding: Monitor platform crowding and temporarily close stations when needed during peak hours.
  • Social Distancing Signage/Markers: Clearly mark six feet of distance on platforms, trains and buses. Demarcate specific seats on trains and buses for riders, block off every other seat to maintain social distance.
  • Hand Sanitizing Stations: Install hand sanitizer in all stations and buses, including next to MetroCard vending machines and any other high-touch locations.
  • Face Coverings: Require face coverings for all individuals using subways, buses and trains. Provide face coverings throughout the system to ensure that all riders have them. The city will initially provide one million FREE face coverings, and the MTA and State should match that commitment.
  • Personnel: City will work with MTA to identify personnel to help promote and enforce social distancing.