New Yorkers react to subway boom

casual subway March 15
Looks like business as usual at Union Sq. station on March 15 as, aside from the masks, riders wait casually, eyes glued to their phones.
Photo by Dean Moses

On March 11, the MTA shared that they reached 1.86 million riders, the largest amount since the dawn of the pandemic. During this bleak year of fear mixed with caution, little wonder New Yorkers gave up on enclosed, unventilated underground transit.

For Stephanie Nichols, the influx of stragglers within the subway is not as comforting as others may think. The fear of travelers ignoring compliance rules is extremely concerning, especially since she does not see any officials enforcing masks.

“I know they are still doing the cleaning, but I still feel a little concerned about it because the ridership has gone up and the amount of time that they are cleaning has decreased,” Nichols said. She witnessed the usual New York cringe worthy habits, eating and partaking in other activities as if the pandemic never happened.

“It seems like people don’t care anymore. I don’t think there has been enough of a change with the vaccines and new variants coming out. I don’t feel like it’s time to increase the number of riders,” Nichols said, explaining that she only uses transit to shop for necessities.

On Thursday, approximately 3 million people rode the bus and train. The clank of turnstiles continuously turning and the commotion of individuals waiting on the platform is once again back, albeit not as jam-packed as “normal.”

Jeremy Wilcox has been taking public transportation since May and has noticed the steady increase, but he feels safe with his mask on and believes that a large percentage of riders are following safety protocols.

“To me it doesn’t seem any more or less riskier than going to a pharmacy or grocery store,” Wilcox said, and he proudly shared he has received his first dose of Pfizer. “It makes me feel hopefully knowing that there are people out there getting the vaccine and that people are getting protection,” he said.

Wilcox is keeping his fingers crossed for trains to return back to 24-hour service. He takes the subway for work and to travel the city and enjoy the sites when the weather is nice. “I don’t own a car like most New Yorkers, so this is the only way I can get around,” Wilcox said.