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NYC Mulls Unprecedented Scaling Back Of Subway Service As Ridership Plummets 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

As of mid-week New York City Subway ridership sank about 20% over coronavirus fears, prompting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to begin consider scaling back operations which see 5.5 million people ride each weekday. Depending on the potential extent, it would be a historic first: “Subway service in New York City could be scaled back as the novel coronavirus outbreak leads to falling ridership, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority official said Thursday,” WSJ reports.

Simultaneously cyclists and people walking to their jobs on foot have been on a noticeable rise though much of New York is grinding to a halt, with public event cancellations coming fast and furious on Thursday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an edict banning large gatherings across the state (of 500 people or more). And in NYC everything from Broadway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other frequented spots have been shuttered, though controversially most high schools remain open – with closures based on confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases, after Mayor Bill de Blasio officially declared a state of emergency Thursday.




Crowded Grand Central subway station, file image via AP.


Currently, the subway system is running as normal, despite the mayor previously comparing the outbreak to a ‘war-time’ situation. “We are getting into a situation where the only analogy is war,” he said.

The mayor is reportedly committed to keeping public transit open, despite growing criticism over the choices being made:

New York will look to keep those vital institutions running at all costs, the mayor said, though he continues to face calls to shutter schools.

For now, MTA officials have simply urged subway commuters to avoid crowded cars and to stagger their rides. And yet with the plummeting numbers they could eventually be forced to begin reducing operations, facing greater pressure from the public.

At the start of the week Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman and CEO Pat Foye said the trains “remain safe” but still recommended for those with underlying health issues, ”If you can get around without riding the subway, do it.”

Tomorrow’s cover: De Blasio declares NYC state of emergency to stem coronavirus https://t.co/VlWiwU5FfH pic.twitter.com/Gm8vuLfzmt

— New York Post (@nypost) March 13, 2020

With the overall 20% drop in ridership, some lines have seen a staggering near half drop in riders, per the WSJ:

The spokesman said ridership on the MTA’s two commuter rail systems, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, was down 31% and 48%, respectively, during Thursday morning’s rush hour, compared with a similar rush hour last year. The state had 328 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday afternoon, including 95 in the city, state officials said.

The MTA is considering service reductions for buses and some commuter railroads, however, to give an idea of just how monumental a subway closure or even reduction would be, it must be remembered that it hasn’t closed in over a century.

The WSJ points out: “The subway system has never shut down because of a health scare. But its 100-plus-year history is scattered with dayslong closures because of storms, labor strikes and blackouts.”

So if we do reach the point to where the MTA actually moves toward unprecedented reductions or even closure, this would most certainly be a ‘canary in the coal mine’ moment signalling to the rest of the country just how bad this could get – as in China and Italy levels of outbreak.


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