As New York City enters Phase 2 reopening, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that on Friday, June 19, 2020, weekday combined ridership on New York City subways and buses surpassed 2 million for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. While a significant increase since the start of the pandemic, the figure represents a decline of 74% from normal weekday ridership levels of 7.6 million combined riders. LIRR ridership is down 85% from normal levels and Metro-North is down 87%.
The MTA has prepared its system for further ridership gains through increased service, unprecedented, around-the-clock cleaning and disinfecting, and by requiring all customers and employees wear masks. With mask compliance at 95%, the MTA continues to distribute 2 million masks that were contributed by the State and the City. Approximately 760 New York City School Safety Agents who have been positioned across subway stations to distribute masks will maintain their existing coverage with additional masks available at station booths.
As the MTA continues to explore every option in its search for customer and employee safety, the agency today released a report it had commissioned reviewing the most effective responses to the pandemic from around the globe. The report is a review of international case studies highlighting the broadest possible range of creative practices and innovative approaches being implemented globally, particularly from countries in Europe and Asia that faced COVID-19 challenges earlier than the United States. The report, prepared by WSP USA Inc. and Dr. Aisha Rivera Margarin, is available here.
“New Yorkers returning to our system can rest assured that the MTA is leading the nation in customer and employee safety, and we are doing everything possible to transform our system and operations for the future,” said Patrick J. Foye, Chairman and CEO of the MTA. “Our review of best practices from systems around the globe and input from the business and labor communities and public health officials has produced an aggressive plan that is being made real by the talented and dedicated MTA workforce. We continue to thank our frontline employees – the heroes moving heroes – whose commitment to public service has been unwavering. We continue to ask for robust federal funding.”
“Safety is our core mission at the MTA, and it will continue to be the cornerstone of everything we do,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit. “Mask vigilance is absolutely critical as New York reopens, and we urge our customers to continue to closely follow public health guidance by frequently washing their hands or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We will be here every step of the way to safely welcome our customers back and I want to thank the incredible 54,000 men and women of NYC Transit for their unwavering dedication during this time.”
“With bus ridership rebounding and bus service increases continuing, I thank our bus operators, and everyone behind the scenes who keep buses moving,” said Craig Cipriano, Acting Senior Vice President of the New York City Transit Department of Buses and Acting President of MTA Bus Company. “We will continue to disinfect every bus daily and do everything we can do to protect the health and safety of our customers and employees.”
Impending Financial Calamity
The MTA has drawn down $2.9 billion of the allocation of funding it received in the March Federal CARES funding, or about 73% of its allocation. The MTA expects to exhaust its remaining CARES funding in July.
“The MTA is facing the most acute financial crisis in its history,” said MTA Chief Financial Officer Bob Foran. “With more than 70% of the CARES funding provided in the first relief package drawn down, and all CARES funding expected to be exhausted early next month, our finances are on life support. We need the Senate to take action now and follow the House of Representatives’ leadership on continued pandemic funding. As the MTA is the lifeblood of New York and the nation’s economy – our financial health will be critical to the country’s economic recovery. New York is also the top donor state in the nation providing $29 billion more in funding than we get back from the federal government. We urge the Senate to come back to Washington, do its job and provide another $3.9 billion in funding to the MTA now to cover the rest of 2020.”
Ridership and Service Details New York City Transit
Bus ridership surpassed 1 million for the first time on Friday, June 19, 2020, with ridership of 1,033,000. The MTA’s normal average weekday bus ridership ranges between 2.1 and 2.5 million.
Bus service levels have been operating at regular weekday/closed school service levels in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island since New York City’s Phase 1 reopening on June 8. In Manhattan, the MTA is increasing service to 90 on four Select Bus Service routes, the M15, M23, M34 and M60. These increases raise the overall Manhattan bus service level to 80% of normal, from 75% as of the Phase 1 reopening on June 08, 2020.
Since May 01, 2020 ridership on the New York City Subway has gradually increased, reaching nearly 985,000 as of Wednesday, June 17, 2020, which represents a decline of 83% from the normal average weekday of approximately 5.5 million. Subways returned regular weekday service on June 8 except for the continuing closure of the system between 01:00 a.m. and 05:00 a.m. for disinfecting and cleaning.
New Data Dashboard Tracking Daily Ridership Available here.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR introduced new timetables on June 8 that increase service to 90% of normal weekday service. Service details can be found on the MYmta and LIRR TrainTime apps, and via MTA.info. Off-peak fares continue to remain in effect at all times.
The Long Island Rail Road continues to hand out masks to customers and has made hand sanitizer stations available throughout the system.
To help foster social distancing as the LIRR welcomes customers back, it has made car-by-car seating availability information available in real-time on the recently updated LIRR TrainTime app.
Off-peak fares will continue to apply at all times.
Metro-North station ambassadors will continue to be at major stations distributing masks and monitoring conditions. Metro-North is continuing to install hand sanitizer dispensers at all New York and many Connecticut stations. Masks are stored on all trains in the event that a person boards without wearing one. A video, offering guidance on how to ride Metro-North during this stage, could be seen below.
Effective today, Metro-North offers 12 additional trains, bringing the railroad’s East-of-Hudson service levels to 63% of normal levels. The railroad is adding two morning trains each on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, and two in the afternoon/evening on each line. The railroad has moved up the departure time of three early morning Hudson Line trains to accommodate those employed in the construction trades who tend to travel on the earliest trains.
As always, Metro-North is closely monitoring ridership on a train-by-train basis to be ready to make additional adjustments. As the Mid-Hudson Valley entered Phase 1 reopening on May 26,202, Metro-North Railroad began increasing service, adding 19 trains at that time. On June 15, 2020, Metro-North added 80 trains.
Off-peak fares will continue to apply at all times.
Unprecedented Cleaning & Disinfecting
On May 6, the subway system began to shut down from 01:00 a.m. to 05:00 a.m. for the first time in its 115-year history for the most aggressive cleaning and disinfecting regimen in its history. To date, all 472 subway stations have been cleaned over 94,000 times and the rolling fleet of subway cars have been cleaned over 497,000 times. Access-A-Ride vehicles have been cleaned more than 131,000 times. Buses have gone through more than 254,000 cleaning cycles. Daily cleaning and disinfecting will continue across train cars and at stations. All train cars will be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day and all stations at least twice daily. In a recent customer survey, 70% of customers say they have noticed cleaner trains.
Long Island Rail Road stations have been cleaned more than 26,000 times to date and LIRR train cars have been cleaned more than 75,900 times during that time. Daily disinfecting and cleaning will continue with all LIRR train cars being sanitized at least once a day and stations at least twice daily.
Daily disinfecting and cleaning will continue with all Metro-North train cars being sanitized at least once a day and stations at least twice daily. To date, Metro-North stations have been cleaned more than 26,000 times, while train cars has been cleaned more than 39,600 times.
13-Point Action Plan for a Safe Return
As New York City enters Phase 2 reopening today, the MTA is furthering its 13-Point Action Plan for a Safe Return that was announced when New York City entered Phase 1 reopening on Monday, June 08, 2020. To continue moving essential workers, welcome back additional riders and invest in the future of the system, the MTA is reimagining operations with one core mission: doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.
The MTA’s 13-Point Action Plan for a Safe Return includes:
- Increased Service;
- Unprecedented Cleaning & Disinfecting;
- Mandatory Face Coverings;
- Enhanced Safety & Security;
- Nation-Leading Employee Safety Initiatives;
- Innovative Cleaning Solutions;
- Hand Sanitizer;
- Floor Markings, Directional Arrows and New Signage;
- Staggered Business Hours;
- 2 Million Mask Contribution from State & City;
- Contactless Payments;
- New Partnership & Technology to Make System Safer;
- Data Dashboard.
The MTA, a global leader among transportation agencies and the largest in North America, has acted expeditiously since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival in New York. To date, the agency has distributed 2.6 million masks, 5.1 million pairs of gloves, 35,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and 112,000 gallons of cleaning solutions to its heroic frontline employees and implemented an unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting regimen across subways, buses, commuter railroads and stations.