MTA pens letter to mayor with plans and requests for transit system as New York City preps for reopening

The 96th Street train station of the Q line was cleaned to the shine by transit workers Monday afternoon. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

By Emily Davenport

The MTA has issued a letter to Mayor de Blasio ahead of phase one of New York City’s planned reopening outlining a series of plans and requests from the city.

The letter, signed by MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye and Interim President of New York City Transit Sarah Feinberg, lays out what they say are key elements to he mayor, First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, and NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, that can be jointly delivered as phase one begins.

As New York City enters phase one of reopening, the MTA acknowledges that face masks must be worn while riding on public transit. The MTA is calling on the city to help them provide masks to riders who may not have one, as well as hand sanitzer.

“As you know, during the beginning of Phase 1, we would like to be able to supply masks to the small group of individuals who may not have a mask or face covering as they enter the system,” the letter reads. “The state has committed to providing 1 million masks. In order to be able to undertake this important effort, we are also requesting the city contribute 1 million masks for distribution to customers.”

However, the letter addresses that the MTA will need additional personnel to help accomplish this task and has requested the city provide 3,000 volunteers to support this customer-facing effort.

The letter continues by saying that while the NYPD is the primary policing force for the public transit system, the NYPD and MTA PD are working collaboratively to make sure that riders are wearing masks.

“We have directed the MTA PD to enforce this measure, but we do not support the arrest of those who are not wearing masks, and we do not believe summonses or tickets should be written. We understand you have directed the NYPD to continue to enforce mask usage across our system in this manner as well, reminding customers that they must wear masks at all times, with no arrests or summonses.”

The MTA stated that while they commend the city for putting emphasis on social distancing, the reality of the public transit system is that they are moving over 1.5 million people every day. To ensure that the MTA can provide social distancing, they will take the following measures:

  • Subways and buses will return to full, regular service by day one of Phase 1;
  • Messaging to customers that subway and bus service remain for essential workers and essential trips only during Phase 1;
  • Requesting employers stagger shifts and continue to allow for remote work;
  • Applying floor markings and decals where possible to assist with social distancing at stations;
  • Supplying hand sanitizer where possible to customers across our system; and
  • Deploying platform controllers, MTA Police, and additional station personnel to monitor conditions and assist with crowding.

Additionally, the MTA is calling for additional NYPD officers to subways in an effort to keep the subway system safe “given the anguish and chaos the city has experienced over the last week.”

“We want to make sure our system is safer than ever for riders. To do this, we will need full cooperation and resources from the NYPD. We all share a goal of safely reopening this city and ramping up service on our system,” the letter reads. “We will need all hands on deck to make this effort a success. Our partnership on the overnight closure has yielded positive results. We will need your help to ensure riders are social distancing as much as possible, deploying staff to platforms and reminding riders to move to less crowded portions of platforms and less crowded cars.”

Read the full letter on the MTA’s website.

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