Op-ed: MTA is glad to have you back for the NYC reopening
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BRONX TIMES R 12 EPORTER, JUNE 12-18, 2020 BTR
BY SARAH FEINBERG
For some of you, June 8 is the fi rst day
you are returning to the transit system –
and allow me to be the fi rst one to say, welcome
For weeks, my 54,000 New York City
colleagues and I have been preparing for
this day, when New York City reopens under
Phase 1 of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s
New York Forward Plan.
Mass transit will be critical as the city
adjusts to some semblance of normality.
Hundreds of thousands of customers —
many of them commuting to work for the
fi rst time in many weeks — are expected
to rejoin us on the subway, buses, and railroads.
Ensuring that we are doing everything
we can to safely accommodate the
rise in ridership is our top priority.
That brings me to our 13-point Plan for
A Safe Return. Starting this week, we are
restoring regular weekday service on subways.
Buses have resumed a regular weekday/
closed-school schedule in Brooklyn,
the Bronx, and Queens, with 75% service
running in Manhattan. This wouldn’t be
possible without the herculean work of our
incredible employees, and we are incredibly
grateful for their continued service.
The subway system will continue to be
closed each night from 1-5 AM, in order
to continue to accommodate our unprecedented
cleaning and disinfecting efforts.
We continue to clean and disinfect our system
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each station
is now disinfected twice per day and
each rail car is cleaned and disinfected as
many as six or seven times each day.
Again, we owe a debt of gratitude to our
workforce — our cleaners are working tirelessly
to keep our system clean. In a recent
customer survey, 70% of our riders said the
system seems cleaner than it’s ever been.
We are not just cleaning more — we are
cleaning in more innovative ways. We currently
have two pilot programs testing ultraviolet
light and antimicrobial sprays —
and they are yielding real results.
We are going to need your help to keep
the system as safe as possible as well. The
hard truth is subways and buses were not
designed with social distancing in mind.
Nor should they have been — after all, our
charge is to move as many people as safely
as we can.
But that is why we need everyone to
wear a mask while traveling. Mask usage
is one of the most important steps you can
take to minimize risk from COVID-19, it’s
a sign of respect to your fellow New Yorkers
— and it is also the law. Masks are absolutely
required in our system now — in
every station, on every subway car, and on
The good news is that we recently surveyed
our ridership and found that a whopping
92% of riders are already being vigilant
about their mask usage — and for that,
we thank you.
On the chance that you forget your
mask one day this week, we will have some
extras in the station booths, thanks to
generous donations from the city and the
This week and going forward, you
might notice some other helpful additions
to your local station — like new hand sanitizer
dispensers and new signs reminding
you how to keep yourself safe. You’ll
also see fl oor markings, fl oor decals, and
new directions aimed at communicating
with you clearly about how to safely move
around our system.
Inevitably, we will learn as we go — we
will learn lessons this week about what else
we can do to give you the tools you need to
safely and confi dently move through our
system. Our commitment to you is to always
be trying to do more, and do better.
The reopening process will have places to
improve, and we’re going to do everything
we can to adapt in real-time to protect your
We’re so glad to you have you back.
Sarah Feinberg is acting President of
MTA New York City Transit.
Photo Credit: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann