Op-ed | Time to dust off that MetroCard?

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons

By Sarah E. Feinberg

There is simply no New York without the transit system. It’s as much a part of the City’s fabric as the Yankees, Broadway and the Empire State Building. Subways and buses represent so much more than transportation; they’re a daily reminder of the grit, energy and endless opportunity that make New York great.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of you have stayed away. But as we move into the recovery stage, it’s more important than ever that you dust off your MetroCard (or better yet use OMNY) and return to mass transit.

New York is finally starting to wake up again. With vaccine deployment picking up speed, restaurants and bars are staying open later and serving customers indoors. Museums and cultural centers have reopened, and fans are returning to arenas and stadiums. To keep this revival going, Transit is ready to welcome back more and more customers.

We know that public transportation is safe: there have been no outbreaks of COVID-19 linked to transit anywhere in the world. And we’ve been working hard to make sure that remains the case. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign released a NYC study just last week that concluded “COVID-19 rides the air, not the subway.” For a year now we’ve been executing the most ambitious disinfecting program in agency history, cleaning stations and rolling stock around the clock. Masks and hand sanitizer are also available for free at stations and on board buses – which has helped us to achieve 99 percent mask usage on buses and 98 percent on the subways.

Additionally, trip planning is easier than ever with our capacity tracking feature on buses and the live subway map, which shows real-time service updates and now includes locations for vaccine hubs in every borough. And of course, there’s OMNY – our touch-and-go payment system that’s now available systemwide and just recorded 50 million taps. It’s faster than swiping and means one less card to worry about.

I’m confident that if you give us a chance in 2021, you’re going to like what you see. And by using mass transit, you’ll be helping the City and businesses get back on their feet. I don’t believe the skeptics who keep saying our way of life is dead. We’ve heard these predictions time and again after every major crisis, and they’ve never come true. New York City is cut from a different cloth, strengthened by the steel fibers of our subways and buses. We just need to be smart to keep each other safe. Mass transit will be there to carry us out of these hard times, as it always has. Come take a ride with us – we can’t wait to have you back.


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