By Mark Hallum
Switch repairs on the 4/5/6 trains near Union Square station are set to wrap meaning that Monday morning, what few commuters there actually are will get full service – and that’s the only return.
The MTA additionally announced on Sunday that front-door boarding on buses will begin again – with COVID-19 precautions in place – on schedule.
“We are changing the way we do construction work to reduce – and prevent – disruption for customers,” said Janno Lieber, president of MTA Construction and Development. “Priority One is to fix things before they break and require emergency repairs. Then, we have to make sure projects get completed on time – especially when the work requires outages or service changes. This project was a big success by both standards.”
On Aug. 10, the MTA reduced service on the three East Side train lines to replace switches and complete other repair work which mean riders had to take a different route when during overnight and weekend hours to get anywhere in Manhattan south of 42 St – Grand Central. The usual schedule commence at 5 a.m., according to the MTA.
The MTA switched from front-door boarding to rear-door boarding in April after the danger to bus drivers became apparent, cutting off the first three rows of buses and ceasing to collect fares. Up to 131 transit workers died from COVID-19.
Now the agency says it has finished retrofitting 5,800 buses with barriers between the drivers and the rest of the public and will begin accepting fares.
“As we prepare for Monday, we want customers and employees to know we are doing everything we can to keep them safe – from disinfecting our buses to mandating masks to installing protective barriers for our operators,” Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit, said. “We honor and respect our heroic frontline employees for everything they continue to do for our city. We are resuming fare collection at a time when we are facing the worst financial crisis in MTA history and we need the federal government to step up and deliver $12 billion in urgently needed funding now.”
And the financial crisis Feinberg mentions is no joke.
With a pending deficit of up $16 billion by 2023, they MTA is asking for $12 billion from the federal government just to support operations through the end of 2021 as fare and toll revenue continues to make a slow comeback.