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Op-ed: How New York City Transit is handling coronavirus pandemic

Interim NYC transit President Sarah Feinberg. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

BY SARAH FEINBERG

I’ve always known that New York City can rise to any occasion, and the latest challenge posed by the novel coronavirus is no exception.

We are in the midst of a serious public health crisis: colleges have cancelled classes, Broadway theaters are shut down and states of emergency have been declared by the city and State because of COVID-19. But somehow these are always the moments when the city comes together.

I want to be clear: for the millions of New Yorkers who still need to get around the city – the subways and buses remain a safe and efficient way to do so. State and local leaders have urged people to telecommute or walk and bike to work. 

That’s good advice for many – but I know it’s simply not possible for everyone. After all, we serve doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, not to mention government employees and first responders.

We’ll continue to operate safe and efficient service – getting people home and to work, school and doctor’s appointments.

We wouldn’t be able to do this without our tireless workforce – the 51,000 men and women who keep this city moving.  I am so grateful to them; they haven’t faltered once through it all, balancing new and intensified protocols for disinfecting trains and buses, while also adapting to a change in leadership. 

We’re sanitizing stations and frequent touch points twice daily, with our full fleet being disinfected on a 72-hour cycle.

The NYC transit system is truly the lifeblood of this city. I’ve said before that it is a small miracle the way millions of people leave their homes every day and take the subway or bus. It’s times like these that illustrate the importance of public transportation in city life.

We’ll get through this together. I took this job knowing that it would be a challenge and if my first week has taught me anything, it’s that New Yorkers can handle anything.

Sarah Feinberg is the acting president of MTA New York City Transit.

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