Coronavirus Updates: To Accommodate City’s Reopening, MTA Will Add More Trains By Monday

Coronavirus Updates: To Accommodate City’s Reopening, MTA Will Add More Trains By Monday
This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order, as well as what the upstate reopening means (NYC is expected to move into Phase 1 on June…

This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY’s stay-at-home order, as well as what the upstate reopening means (NYC is expected to move into Phase 1 on June 8th); a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here’s the latest:


To Accommodate City’s Reopening, MTA Will Add More Trains By Monday

Subways will run on a more frequent schedule by Monday, when manufacturing, construction and some retail businesses are expected to reopen under the first phase of the state’s plan. But the subway system will continue to shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to allow for a nightly cleaning of the trains.

The announcement on Tuesday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority answered one of the looming questions concerning the city’s reopening. As many as 400,000 New Yorkers are expected to return to work soon, but commuters have received little guidance on what to expect from mass transit.

Last Friday, MTA chairman Patrick Foye criticized a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people to take cars. “Encouraging people, especially those without cars and in congested areas like New York, not to take public transit is misguided,” he wrote, claiming that, “Transit is, and has long been, the safest way to move around any city.” 

But the problem was that the MTA had yet to inform the public on how the subways, in which passengers are often packed tight like sardines, would be safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the MTA announced a pilot program to install hand sanitizer dispensers, although some at a Brooklyn station were not working (see update below). In a letter to city officials on Tuesday, Foye outlined additional measures such as handing out masks, applying floor markings and decals to assist with social distancing at stations and deploying platform controllers, MTA police and additional personnel to help prevent crowding.

Foye also said he was recommending that employers run on a staggered work schedule and also allow employees to continue to work remotely.

Ultimately, none of the elements of the MTA’s plan were surprising. Foye suggested that onus was largely on commuters.

“The reality of our system, however, is that we are already currently moving about 1.5 million people per day,” Foye wrote. “Wearing a mask and following public health guidance, including frequently washing hands or using alcohol-based sanitizer, remain the most important steps to minimize the public health risk from the virus.”

An earlier version misstated that the subway system would resume 24-hour service.

With Less Than A Week To Go Before Reopening, MTA Installs Sanitizers At Four Stations

A hand sanitizer pump inside a subway station.



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Courtesy of NYC Transit

As New York City looks to reopen on Monday, the MTA is installing hand sanitizer dispensers as part of a pilot program to combat the spread of coronavirus. The dispensers have already been installed at four stations. In a tweet on Monday, New York Transit authorities said that the agency is “testing different types so we can find a solution that we can bring systemwide.”

Starting today you might notice hand sanitizer dispensers at some stations—we’re testing different types so we can find a solution that we can bring systemwide. We’re making sure they’re sturdy enough, hold enough hand sanitizer, and function properly. Keep an eye out. pic.twitter.com/r1jntEbtfi

— NYCT Subway. Stay Home. Stop the Spread. (@NYCTSubway) June 1, 2020

Transit advocates have criticized both Mayor Bill de Blasio and the MTA with failing to reveal a concrete plan for commuters. As many as 400,000 people are expected to return to work during the first phase of the reopening, which applies to manufacturing, construction, wholesalers and retail with curbside service. Thus far, the MTA has said it will distribute masks to passengers who do not have one. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the agency was also looking at possibly staggering train service and having staffers direct commuters on platforms to prevent overcrowding.

Last Friday, a spokesperson for the MTA told Gothamist, “We have been formulating a plan for weeks, and will be releasing more detail soon.”

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discouraged people from taking public transit, a guidance that the MTA strongly pushed back on last week.

The MTA has so far rolled out the hand sanitizer dispensers at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station, Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station in Queens, the Third Avenue-149th Street station in the Bronx and the Delancey Street-Essex Street station in lower Manhattan.

To minimize hand contact, the tall skinny yellow dispensers are operated by foot. But some have noted that a foot-operated dispenser may not work for people with mobility impairments.

As of Monday, several dispensers were reportedly not working at the Barclays Center station.

Reached for comment, the MTA didn’t say whether it was out of sanitizer or simply defective, but noted that this is just one of several products it will be piloting in the coming weeks.

“The reality is this pilot has served its intended purpose in highlighting some areas that need to be addressed in terms of functionality of the equipment and we are working on that with the objective of having fully, functioning units available prior to the reopening of New York City on June 8,” an MTA spokesman told the New York Post.

Reporting by Stephen Nessen

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