IN VIRUS CRISIS
Losing millions of dollars each week, the MTA nevertheless
continues to provide subway and bus
service for the essential workers, keeping this city
going while everyone else is stuck at home.
Ridership is down up to 90 percent system-wide during
the coronavirus pandemic. The MTA has taken
staggering financial losses and has seen thousands of
its workforce sickened by the virus; more than 50 staffers
have died as a result. Yet, the MTA keeps rolling on.
Why? Because the working class depends on it.
How else would health care workers get to the hospital?
How else would a grocery store clerk get to their
shop to keep the shelves properly stocked? How would
daycare employees get to their centers to watch the children
of other essential workers?
Not everyone can afford a car or a daily taxi or Uber
ride to and from work. The city’s mass transit system,
for all its well-documented faults through the years, is
the lifeblood of New York City. When it shuts down, the
city shuts down, period.
Over the weekend, four New York City Council
members — Robert Holden, Peter Koo and Eric Ulrich
of Queens, and Mark Gjonaj from The Bronx — wrote
to Governor Andrew Cuomo asking that he order that
subways and buses be shut down during the pandemic
due to the virus’ easy communicability.
They called upon the state to partner with for-hire
vehicles to keep essential workers moving.
But that plan is seriously flawed, mainly because it
poses an expensive question: Who pays for it?
The state could make pricey deals with cab base operators
to pay for all the rides (and the drivers’ expenses)
at the taxpayer’s expense, or negotiate discounted fares
to give essential workers a break — though it wouldn’t
be much of one.
The reality is a $2.75 ride on a subway is still far
cheaper than cab rides at half-fare. It’s said that “the
road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This carfocused
appeal to shut the MTA down certainly travels
The MTA has already dismissed this plan, and we
expect Cuomo to do the same. Everyone in New York
should appreciate the sacrifices MTA crew members
have made during this pandemic. They are deserving of
our gratitude — and the state must ensure all crew members
are protected and compensated for their service.
The MTA should continue to operate despite recent calls to shut down subways and buses.
Photo by Todd Maisel
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.14 COM | APRIL 24-APRIL 30, 2020
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