Op-ed | Amid the pandemic struggles, some progress made in NYC Transit

traffic safety
New York City Transit Authority Interim President Sarah Feinberg talks to media on May 2, 2020.
Photo by Todd Maisel


To say it’s been a rough six months is an understatement; the COVID crisis is and remains a national nightmare. But for now, the smoke is starting to clear here in New York: schools are reopening, indoor dining is set to resume, and most importantly for us at Transit, riders are starting to return to the system in greater numbers.

We’re inching closer to 2 million daily riders on the subway and holding steady at over 1 million on buses. This is great news.

I hope you’re among those joining us. The truth is, if you give us a chance, you might be surprised. For starters, the system is cleaner than ever thanks to our around-the-clock disinfecting efforts on rolling stock and in stations, and we’re more focused than ever on improving the customer experience. 

Case in point, the rollout of OMNY – even the pandemic can’t slow us down. We just passed the 75% completion mark for subway stations, and all Bronx buses will be equipped with the new fare payment system in October. By the end of the year, it will be available everywhere.  

Our new normal has proven just how crucial it is to have a contactless system in place. The market share of customers using OMNY skyrocketed by 95% over the last six months, and we’re fast approaching 20 million taps since launching in spring 2019. 

This week, we’re also reprinting the subway station map for the first time in two years, the longest stretch between printings ever.

The new edition includes several updates: the renaming of two stations in Brooklyn at Medgar Evers College; the restoration of N express service in Brooklyn; and new accessibility markers at stations like the 86th St R, Astoria Boulevard N/W, 1st Avenue L and Bedford Avenue L. To clarify, these updates appeared online, in our apps and on in-station screens right away, but printings are sporadic. Now the new map will be installed inside train cars and in stations.

I want all New Yorkers to be able to get around our city as easily as possible– with all the up-to-date route information they might need, a quick and seamless way to pay the fare, and above all, a system that is safe and clean to visit. It’s as simple as that.

Everyone at Transit is working hard to keep us moving forward, like we were before the pandemic. Pre-COVID, subways and buses were seeing the best on-time performance in years, with our highest ridership since 2017. We’re not letting that progress go down the drain. Come ride with us and see for yourself.

Sarah Feinberg is interim MTA New York City Transit president.

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