Here’s how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting public transit

Max
Touhey

Amid plunging ridership and service cuts, here’s what you need
to know about public transit during the COVID-19 outbreak

New York city and state officials have tried to slow the novel
coronavirus pandemic by shuttering all nonessential businesses,
closing schools, and
urging residents to hunker down
at home. As a result, ridership
has plummeted across New York’s mass transit systems—subway,
buses, commuter rail, and ferries—as officials scramble to keep
service running.

But as the city’s COVID-19 cases continue to climb, transit
workers are becoming ill and service reductions are beginning to
mount. Now, the MTA is implementing what it calls the Essential
Service Plan, majorly reducing trains and buses across its transit
networks.

Health officials continue to caution those feeling sick—and
even those who are not—from leaving home unless the state has
deemed your job essential (health care,
transportation, law enforcement, etc.
) or to pick up groceries
and medication. But if you
absolutely have to leave your home
, here’s what you need to
know about COVID-19’s impact on public transit.

This post will be periodically updated with service changes.

Subway

Under the MTA’s Essential Service Plan, the authority is
slashing subway service by 25 percent starting March 25. The
decision to scale back on train lines comes as ridership hit a
historic low of 87 percent compared to this same time last year and
as COVID-19 hobbles the authority’s frontline workers—train
crews, dispatchers, track workers. At a Tuesday press conference
announcing the news, MTA President Pat Foye said that he doubts a
reduced frequency would force straphangers to cram into train cars
since the system is only serving 13 percent of its typical
ridership.

As of March 24, 52 MTA employees have tested positive for
COVID-19. Only a day earlier MTA officials
temporarily halted C train
service as the coronavirus continued
to infect the authority’s frontline workforce; the C line has
since been restored. Service on other lines, however, is being
scaled back.

The system will continue to run on its typical schedule during
the a.m. and p.m. rush, but trains will be suspended on the B, W,
and Z lines—and express service across the system will be
reduced. On the 7 and J lines, express service has been entirely
suspended. N trains won’t run express in Manhattan. The same goes
for the 4, 5, and 6 lines in the Bronx. D trains will make local
stops in the Bronx but run express in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while
the F line will make all local stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn and
continue to run express in Queens. The Staten Island Railway will
make all local stops, running every 20 minutes during peak hours
and hourly overnight.

Worker shortages have also forced the MTA to cut service on
stretches of lines. This includes on the 5 line between Nereid
Avenue and East 180 Street in the Bronx (use 2 service instead);
between Bowling Green and Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue (use the
4 and 2 service as an alternative); on the A line between Broad
Channel and Rockaway Park (use the S shuttle); and E train service
between Jamaica-179 Street and Union Turnpike (use the F).

All told, the novel coronavirus has crippled subway ridership,
with the resulting dive in revenue prompting MTA officials to seek
a
$4 billion relief package
from the federal government. For the
average rider, the subway’s new reality is clear with eerily
empty trains during typically bustling rush hours and workers
donning masks and gloves.

Buses

As of March 26, the city’s bus network will operate at 75
percent of its capacity under the Essential Service Plan. The
changes aren’t expected to impact riders in a major way not that
ridership is down more than 70 percent compared to the same time
last year, according to the MTA.

Other changes to the bus system include rear door boarding; only
those with limited mobility will be allowed to board in the front
to use ramps and accessibility seating. The move is an attempt to
protect bus drivers from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Plastic yellow chains are bing used to close off the front section
of buses, keeping drivers a safe distance from riders during the
city’s pandemic.

People are still expected to pay the fare so long as on-board
payment boxes or Select Bus Service ticket machines are accessible,
says the MTA. Express bus customers can board as usual but as a
precaution to drivers, they are barred from sitting in the first
three rows.

Commuter rail

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s commuter rail
lines—Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road—are currently
operating at normal weekday schedules except for Metro-North’s
west of Hudson lines, which are operating on a weekend schedule.
Starting March 27, Metro-North will scale back on some service but
will continue to provide hourly trains on the Harlem, Hudson, and
New Haven lines; the LIRR will operate its typical schedule for
a.m. and p.m. peak but will scale pack 65 percent of its typical
capacity. Ticket counters for both lines are closed, instead
customers can use ticket vending machines or the MTA eTix app.

Citi Bike

Biking is the only way of getting around that has seen a surge
of activity amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, with Mayor Bill de
Blasio encouraging New Yorkers “to bike or walk” in early
March. The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) saw cycling
traffic over its bridges spike between March 1 and March 10. Citi
Bike also saw a 67 percent uptick between March 1 and 11, compared
to the year prior.

Ridership on Citi Bikes and over city-run bridges has since
dipped, but that’s likely tied to city and state officials
majorly curtailing New Yorkers’ movements over the last couple of
weeks. Regardless, Citi Bike is working with DOT to install
additional docks and stations in busy parts of Manhattan. Staffers
continue to disinfect high-contact surfaces each time they arrive
in the Lyft-owned company’s depot, and at the start of each
shift, workers are also disinfecting surfaces on vans used to
transport the bikes.

Ferries

All NYC Ferry routes are operating on a modified schedule until
further notice. As of March 23, weekday schedules will be operating
with a
reduced frequency
to account for lower ridership while weekend
schedules will remain the same.

The Staten Island Ferry’s ridership has also taken a major
hit, with a 70 percent dip in recent days. Vessels are operating
roughly every 20
minutes from St. George and Whitehall terminals
during the
morning and evening rush hours on weekdays and hourly from midnight
to 5 a.m.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Here’s how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting public transit