NEW YORK - Despite protests and the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio says that New York City will begin Phase One of reopening on June 8. Bus and subway service is expected to increase, but questions remain over how to make mass transit safe for thousands of the city's workers.
Craig Cipriano, acting President of the MTA Bus Company insists that mass transit is ready for an additional 200,000 workers to return to the job in the city next Monday.
“We are fully prepared for reopening in Phase One,” Cipriano said.
However, The Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization that fights for better public transit is not as confident buses and subways will be ready for New Yorkers to return to work next week.
“Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio haven’t really thought through their transit plan,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras of The Riders Alliance.
Mayor De Blasio has said to promote social distancing, he wants markings on the subway platforms and bus orders to leave an empty seat between passengers.
“Before COVID, people were crammed into trains on top of each other and that is not acceptable,” Burgos-Veras said. “The regular we were doing pre-COVID is not going to be enough if we want people to be safe.”
Cipriano says that the MTA is disinfecting all of the organization’s buses every 24 hours and asking all customers to wear a mask.
“We are making it as safe as possible, but we all need to do our part,” Cipriano said.
One thing The Riders Alliance and the MTA Bus Company’s acting president do agree on, however, is adding more bus lanes.
The MTA sent a letter to the Mayor urging him to add 60 miles of new bus lanes city-wide, arguing that doing so would help alleviate crowding on sidewalks and subways.
Right now, however, adding new bus lanes has stalled and is not currently part of the new budget plan.