To the Editor,
MTA Chairman Janno Lieber proudly proclaiming that subway riders have returned in record numbers is a glass still half full. Will 60,000-plus new Long Island Railroad riders utilize the future $11.2 billion East Side Access Grand Central Terminal upon opening in December 2022? How many years will it will take before 5 million-plus pre-COVID-19 commuters return to the nation’s largest subway system? How many years will it take before returning to pre-COVID-19 ridership numbers for NYC Transit (bus), Staten Island Railway, Long Island and Metro-North railroads? How many more years will pass, before ridership increases beyond pre-COVID-19 numbers?
More people are going to continue telecommuting from home part or full time. There will be fewer face-to-face meetings and conferences, with increased use of Zoom and other teleconference technologies. Many Manhattan-based corporations are downsizing existing office space. Others are relocating employees to suburban offices closer to home.
The MTA should invest financial resources on state of good repair and safety projects rather than initiating new system expansion projects such as the $6.9 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 or the $1.6 billion Metro-North Bronx East Penn Station Access. There is still much to be done in dealing with fare evasion, homeless people, crime, frequent service disruptions due to flooding, signal or other operational problems along with a backlog worth of tens of billions in long overdue state of good repair projects.