The MTA could consider a reservation-only system for NYC's subways and buses

"Everything is on the table."

Collier Sutter
Written by
Collier Sutter
people standing in subway cars
Photograph: Shutterstock

New Yorkers know there's going to be a lot of changes in the city when it comes to eating out, shopping at stores and going to the gym. But what about the once-packed subways cars of our daily commutes? Well, it's looking like the days of overcrowded trains and platforms may be a thing of the past. Currently, New York City's MTA is considering all options to reduce density. 

For starters, the MTA is already testing social distancing markers at some stations in New York to show riders where they can stand, six feet apart. You can currently find these Xs already set up at the Lexington Avenue/53rd Street station on the Queens-bound E/M platform and at the 51st Street station on the 6 line. 

The MTA is also considering amping up surveillance systems in subway cars, stations and buses to further control crowds, says MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye during an interview on 1010 WINS. 

"We've got cameras on almost every station," says Foye. "They can be used to determine passengers on a platform, passengers on a mezzanine, and we will be looking at that. And we will be looking at ways to control the number of passengers."

Foye suggested that riders in the future could even be asked to reserve a spot on a bus or train ahead of time in order to reduce crowd density and mandate safe distance.

“I think agencies around the world have done things like metering,” Foye said on the Wall Street Journal’s The Journal podcast earlier this week. “I think there ought to be consideration of reserving a space at least for some period of time on a subway or bus, using for instance the technology that we are all familiar with that Ticketmaster uses.”

Speaking on 1010 WINS Wednesday morning, Foye added on the topic of reserved seating, “we’re looking at everything, everything is on the table.” 

Foye says staggered work hours and work-from-home options could help reduce ridership volume, stating that he thinks telework and remote working will be part of life in New York going forward. "Talking with employers large and small I think that will be welcomed," he said on The Journal podcast. I think employers will continue to encourage many of their employees who can, to work remotely as that experiment has worked well."

By next week, the MTA will have also distributed a total of 1.9 million masks and over 4 million pairs of gloves.

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