How New York City’s Public Transport Is Dealing With The Coronavirus

How New York City’s Public Transport Is Dealing With The Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic is still not showing signs of slowing down. Of course, that’s not a good thing for us. It has hit our society at various levels, that even the least thought effect is already happening. 

But to be more obvious, the outbreak has affected the transportation system of various parts of the world. In the United States alone, most public transit groups and companies are already devising methods to prevent the virus from compromising their operations. And among their greatest weapons is bleach–a whole lot of bleach. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York mentioned that they are already packing tons of bleach supplies and other treatments that can combat viruses. This particular transit agency is catering to more than 8 million passengers on a daily basis. With that factor, being complacent is the last thing that it will ever do. 

The bleach and treatments will be used in cleaning different station equipment in multiple subways. Among these are turnstiles, handrails, and of course, the MetroCard machines. While it sounds easy, this task is actually overwhelming. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has to deal with approximately 470 subway stations, 6,400 train cars, and 4,300 buses. However, the agency committed that all of its fleets would get disinfected regularly every three days.

“If it smells like bleach when you get on a bus or when a child goes to school, it is not bad cologne,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“It is bleach,” he shortly followed. 

However, there’s an evident confusion as to whether or not people should take the public transits. On Thursday, Corey Johnson, the New York City Council, mentioned that it is completely safe to board the subway stations. He kept repeating the same assurance. Meanwhile, Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, was seen taking the subway on his way from the City Hall to Brooklyn, where the Office of Emergency Management is located. The mayor is often criticized for constantly using a state-owned SUV.

But after a few days, the tone of the mayor changed. In a twitter post, he said that “Plan to have some extra travel time in your commute. If the train that pulls up is too packed, move to a different car or wait to take the next one. Bike or walk to work if you can.”

The thought that there are lesser dangers in a subway platform than a subway filled with people is quite questionable. The mayor did encourage the people to walk or bike. But at the same time, there were no policies that force the streets and roads to be closed so that alternative means of commuting (e.g., walking and biking) can be done. 

The statement that de Blasio gave the impression that people should use ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber. If this is the idea that he is perpetuating, then it is expected that traffic congestion could get worse. That would defeat the purpose of social distancing, too. 

This dilemma is actually being experienced by various cities in the United States. Health officials have already warned the infectiousness of the virus. It can spread quickly when people are close together. Tiny droplets that came from sneezing, coughing, and even talking are the notorious means of the coronavirus to spread to people. 

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this novel coronavirus is capable of surviving on surfaces for a day. Because of this, there’s a need for people to avoid touching objects that are usually touched by people such as handrails and toll machines. These amenities are quite common in public transport systems. If you touch them, better not touch your face with your hands until you disinfected them. 

The call for social distancing is not just a fancy way of separating people and decongesting the streets. Without a known cure yet, this is the effective means of flattening the curve. Therefore, it is necessary to cancel any forms of public gatherings. Since mass transits are known to gather people, their operation and setup should be regulated, too, so that they can adhere to this policy. 

William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor that specializes in preventive medicine and infectious diseases, expressed his qualms on how urban jungles like New York City could achieve the ideal social distancing. 

“There isn’t any doubt that if you’ve been on the New York City subway, you are in close contact with a lot of your fellow citizens,” he said. “It’s in that type of environment where coronavirus can spread if you’re not careful.”

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Madison Powers
Madison Powers