By N Miller
Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said this in a statement: "We are thrilled to see so many New Yorkers returning to the system after the most challenging year in New York City Transit history. Make no mistake: we still have a long way to go, but the progress we've made in bringing riders back is significant. We will continue to do everything in our power to get New Yorkers to vaccination sites and we are hopeful that more and more of our customers will return to the system in the weeks and months to come.”
Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded five million in the subway system. That figure fell by more than 90 percent to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases reached their apex in the New York City area. Daily bus trips at that time were down close to 75 percent from pre-pandemic figures and fell to approximately 600,000. Despite the immense reduction in daily ridership, New York City Transit workers continued to provide service for the frontline healthcare professionals and other essential workers who needed to get to work during some of the bleakest days in New York City history.
The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began to ensure the system as as safe as possible for its customers. The Authority has also rolled out robust public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. Mask compliance in the system remains high, with more than 95 percent of customers wearing a mask when riding mass transit. These COVID-related measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. The MTA also rolled out special bus routes to help customers in Queens and Brooklyn get to vaccination sites more easily and unveiled updates to the subway map that allow riders to find the nearest vaccination site throughout the city.
This past week, the Long Island Rail Road has cut some trips from its schedule, causing some rush hour trains to be congested. LIRR President Phil Eng said this in a statement back on Monday March 8th: “In December 2020, the LIRR announced we would move service levels closer to current ridership and provide 75% of service for the current 24% of customers who are riding. The service change, which took effect this morning, was part of that previously announced effort. During this morning’s rush, there were sporadic and isolated incidents of crowding on a few trains in the morning rush and we are prepared to add service during the p.m. rush as well as tomorrow morning to immediately address this issue. As always, we will continue to monitor ridership and make adjustments as necessary whether that is lengthening trains or adding additional service. We are grateful to Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his leadership in securing an additional $6.5 billion in federal funding for the MTA in the American Rescue Plan, which will allow us to avoid the drastic cuts to LIRR service that were being contemplated. Those cuts are completely separate from this rightsizing effort. The LIRR’s capacity tracking feature is available for all customers to track capacity in real-time on the LIRR TrainTime app. We thank our customers for their patience.”
Due to the crowded trains from earlier this week, LIRR has decided to reverse the AM Rush Hour trip cuts and LIRR President Phil Eng said this in statement: "We heard our customers' concerns about our new schedule loud and clear. As a result, we will restore our previous timetable on March 29. In the meantime, we will continue to strategically add additional trains and lengthen trains to meet evolving ridership levels. We continue to monitor seating availability with unprecedented clarity thanks to new technology. As declining COVID-19 cases and increased deployment of the vaccine allow New York to fully reopen, customers should expect to see more riders returning to trains every day, and we look forward to it."
Source: MTA’s Daily Press Releases