Nearly 400,000 commuters to head into city as NYC begins phase 1

The MTA is beginning its 13-step safety plan today with tens-of-thousands of more people expected to commute again.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2020, 9:47 AM

Updated 1,441 days ago

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New York City begins phase one reopening today which is bringing up to 400,000 people back to work at once, including many who will start commuting again from the Hudson Valley.
As the coronavirus cases rose, the number of people taking Metro-North dropped as low as 90%. Now with jobs restarting, it's up to the people who run the train to keep riders and employees safe and moving more efficiently than before.
The MTA is beginning its 13-step safety plan today with tens-of-thousands of more people expected to commute again.
This includes increasing the number of trains available for people to take. By June 15, Metro-North will return to more than 60% of their normal weekday service, bringing 50 trains into Grand Central during the morning peak, and 68 trains heading north during the evenings. 
All train cars will be cleaned at least once a day and stations at least two times daily as service picks up. 
And masks are required for all employees and customers.
The trip is going to feel different too. Riders will notice more plexiglass barriers in places where employees and customers interact, hand sanitizer dispensers set up, PPE vending machines, volunteers handing out masks, and floor markings to promote social distancing as well as traffic flow.
"We've come back from hurricanes, we've come back from blackouts, we've come back from all kinds of things, we've come back from snowstorms. We're a can-do organization, we do what we need to do to get people going, and get people moving, and keep the region moving. But something like this which really strikes at the heart of our ability to interact and really strikes at the heart of our mission is just like something that nobody really envisioned," says Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad.
The question now is will this be enough to restore riders' confidence to get back on a train especially as the Mid-Hudson region prepares for phase two reopening on Tuesday?
Like every business, the pandemic is taking a financial toll on the MTA. The organization is requesting nearly $4 billion in emergency federal funding for this year with projected losses of nearly $10.5 billion through 2021. 
"Employers are going to stagger shifts, they're going to 'A teams' and 'B teams,' they're encouraging more and more employees to telecommute. So what the impact is going to be on our ridership, we really don't know yet to be honest with you," says Rinaldi.
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