New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is facing challenging economic times due to the coronavirus shutdown. The nations’ largest transit system, servicing an average of 5.5 million subway riders per day, has lost 87 percent of its passengers and revenue since non-essential businesses closed.
In response to the loss of riders, the MTA is asking the Federal government to for $4 billion in stimulus aid. The MTA is also implementing an essential service plan, catering to first responders and suspending weekday service of the B, W and Z subway lines. Express train service will go local for 4,5,6, and D trains. Off-peak, on-rush hour service for subways and buses will also see service reductions.
The Long Island Railroad and Metro North trains will also see service reductions. Service station agents are also suspended. Riders will only have access to machines to purchase Metrocards.
The MTA has not issued steep subway service cuts since 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. Subway service was stopped for several days to protect the public from dangerous flooding.
On March 17th, days before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order for all non essential businesses to close and keep staff off the trains, the MTA reported it had about 1.7 million riders on the train, down from 5.5 million riders on the day period in 2019.
The move to cut service is a big departure from the MTA’s plan to boost technology, modernize the trains and add more service to crowded lines.
Last year the MTA introduced its OMNY contactless fare payment system is among the newest technology debuting on the 4,5,6 train lines on the east side of the city. The new machine makes the metro card optional and allows direct payment with a debit, credit card or app payment systems including Apple Pay. If the OMNY program is successful, metro cards could be eliminated or greatly reduced by 2023. The loss of ridership and the city and state on pause to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak could delay the MTA’s plans to upgrade its system and services.
Service status notices were also among upgrades being rolled out to give riders real time details about train arrivals and delays. Buses in the Bronx were also set for a redesign. There is no known date when normal subway service and the MTA’s improvement plans will resume.
Watch the MTA Press Conference announcing changes due to the Coronavirus closures and ridership drop.