BY SARAH E. FEINBERG
While most of us are eager to leave 2020 behind, this past year will never be far from my mind. Turning a new page on the calendar can’t erase what we have been through: losing friends and colleagues, surviving illness, and our city changing forever.
I took over as interim president of New York City Transit just as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped New York and we have been battling it ever since. But the men and women of New York City Transit have been a relentless source of inspiration through it all.
When so much of normal life disappeared, the Transit workforce stood strong. They came to work and did their jobs day after day, putting their own fears aside to serve essential workers and other New Yorkers.
And as if that wasn’t enough, they also delivered on a truly impressive slate of projects against all odds – from adapting our system to the realities of COVID to refining countless schedules to finishing 11 ADA accessible stations, the list of accomplishments is long and varied. I couldn’t be prouder.
And I know New Yorkers are proud too. Our year-end customer surveys showed an incredible 7-point increase in overall satisfaction with subway service compared to the year before, with an overwhelming 76% of respondents saying our unparalleled cleaning and disinfecting efforts make them feel safe when using mass transit.
I have no doubt Transit will continue to step up in 2021. We’re starting this year off with a massive campaign to vaccinate our workforce, who last week became eligible for inoculation under Phase 1b of the State’s distribution plan. It is our goal to ensure that every employee who’s willing and able can get the COVID vaccine in the coming weeks, starting with those on the front lines.
The MTA is working hard to set up on-site vaccination centers where workers can receive their shots, similar to our nation-leading diagnostic testing program.
But for this to make a difference, we need everyone to get vaccinated. Simply put, it’s the best way we can protect ourselves and our families going forward.
Ensuring the safety of our workforce and the safety of our system has been my highest priority since taking the helm of Transit almost one year ago. In addition to the vaccine rollout, most recently these efforts have focused on securing additional NYPD presence in our system following a string of disturbing attacks on workers and customers. I’ve also asked the city to do more in response to the mental health crisis that’s playing out across the five boroughs, and by extension, our transit system.
There will always be more that we can do to improve security, and I promise to do everything I can in 2021 to create a more positive environment underground and on our buses. New Yorkers deserve nothing less.
Sarah E. Feinberg is interim president of MTA New York City Transit.
Note: The views and opinions expressed by any op-ed author reflect their viewpoint, and not necessarily those of this publication.