In an extremely rare move considering it’s managed to stay operational in its over century of existence, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will begin to cut services starting Wednesday after the coronavirus pandemic has seen ridership plummet 87% compared to the same day last year.
The New York Times reports the city is cutting bus and commuter rail services as well, in total slashing public transport by at least 25%. This is a stunning drop of nearly 4.8 million riders.
In normal times the city’s famous subway system sees about 5.5 million people ride each weekday, but even with the plummeting numbers and with more commuters opting for more ‘social distancing’ friendly means like bicycles or walking, the MTA has struggled with personnel shortages as well amid the crisis.
The NY Times reports:
Personnel shortages forced the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees subways, buses and two commuter rails, to temporarily eliminate service on three subway lines: the B, the W and the Z.
So far, 52 M.T.A. workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, and worker shortages have caused around 800 service delays.
The MTA began mulling the scale-back of operations starting two weeks ago as at that moment around the time of Trump’s ‘national emergency’ declaration there was a noticeable 20% drop in ridership as New Yorkers sought to increasingly avoid crowds.
MTA recently tried to assure the public that the trains “remain safe” but still recommended for those with underlying health issues, “If you can get around without riding the subway, do it.”
But as for ‘safety’ the fact that over 50 employees and operators have caught Covid-19 is not a good sign for how quickly for virus potentially may have spread among remaining riders.
“Most people should stay off mass transit,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said Tuesday. “The step we are taking today is a tenet to advance the governor’s goals of flattening the curve of positive cases and slowing the spread of the virus.”
As The Hill notes, the MTA projects “it will lose about $3.7 billion, not including $300 million for coronavirus-related expenses or the loss in local and state funding from taxes.” The MTA has thus far requested a $4 billion federal bailout, with New Jersey Transit has appealing for $1.25 billion.