MTA Considers Reserved Seats, Staggered Hours Amid Pandemic

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The MTA could implement a number of measures, including reserved seats, as it returns to full service amid ongoing fears about the coronavirus, Chairman Pat Foye said this week.

Foye told the Wall Street Journal’s The Journal podcast that reserved seats and staggered hours are among the measures being considered by the MTA.

Foye said there’s a chance riders may have to reserve seats on trains or buses, at least temporarily, to help control crowding.

“I think agencies around the world have done things like metering,” Foye said on the podcast. “I think there ought to be consideration of reserving a space at least for some period of time on a subway or bus, using for instance the technology that we are all familiar with that TicketMaster uses.”

Foye also said there may be markings on subway cars indicating where riders should stand so they can keep their distance from one another.

“I think there is likely to be indications on the floor of the subway car as to enter here and leave here, in this area there ought to be no more than X passengers,” Foye said.

The MTA may also work with businesses to stagger workers’ hours, a way to reduce the number of people taking the subway and buses during the morning and evening rush.

“If you go back to the 1918 pandemic, staggered hours were something that were put in place by New York City and the state at the time. I think it’s an easy way, it’s a common-sense way to do that. My sense is talking with employers, large and small, I think that will be welcomed,” Foye said.

The MTA chairman also said he thinks everyone taking the subway and buses will likely be wearing face coverings.

“I think you are going to see, everybody, every employee and every passenger having a mask or a bandana or a scarf or a facial covering. I think that’s de rigueur and I think there will be great social pressure in every context including transit to wear your mask," Foye said. "I think it’s likely that the cars and the stations will have been disinfected the evening before, the night before, so I think there will be the smell of bleach or the application of antimicrobial products.”

Foye also said the MTA’s so-called Temperature Brigade will likely stick around to continue checking employees before they work. The brigade has been taking the temperatures of employees at subway, bus, Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road and bridge and tunnel facilities since early April.

“I think that’s likely to continue,” Foye said of the checks.

He also said he thinks cashless transactions will continue to be encouraged since they mean less riders rare interacting with MTA employees and touching surfaces across the system.

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