Riders Alliance’s Betsy Plum: “Many New Yorkers continue to rely on public transit even while living in fear of contracting and spreading the Coronavirus…public transit is a lifeline even during a pandemic health crisis.”
During COVID-19 outbreak how many people are there using New York City subways and buses?
The Riders Alliance, New York’s grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, kicked off an online survey of public transit riders, focusing on those commuting despite the Coronavirus threat.
The survey will reveal how riders depend on public transit and how they feel about the relative health and safety of subways and buses. Results will shed light on what the MTA and other government agencies can do to stabilize and improve conditions. The Riders Alliance will incorporate its findings into its ongoing and new campaigns for better, more reliable, affordable and frequent public transit service.
“Many New Yorkers continue to rely on public transit even while living in fear of contracting and spreading the Coronavirus,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. “For transit workers, healthcare workers, and many service-sector wage-earners, public transit is a lifeline even during a pandemic health crisis. We want to hear riders’ concerns and amplify their voices to Governor Cuomo and other officials accountable for the integrity of subway and bus service.”
According to MTA data, while transit ridership plummeted this week, millions of New Yorkers are still taking subways and buses. Increasingly, public transit is serving as a lifeline, moving essential workers from home to jobs protecting the city and millions of other New Yorkers. With subway ridership down 68% and bus ridership down 56%, well over two million New Yorkers are still in transit.
The survey, available at ridersny.org/covid, asks riders whether and why they have continued using public transit through the current pandemic crisis and if they’ve felt safe and what else the MTA can do to reassure them.
The Riders Alliance is also asking riders for their personal stories of commuting during the crisis as well as their opinions about whether and how the MTA should adjust the frequency of transit service. The survey also asks respondents about their broader policy preferences for addressing the crisis as it interferes with New Yorkers’ work lives and whether they’ve been the target of or bystander to any racial incidents sparked by fellow riders’ fear of the virus.
The Riders Alliance will reach out to commuters via social media platforms and through partnerships with elected officials and allied organizations. The survey will run for several days, after which time results will be announced and recommendations made.
Meanwhile, the Riders Alliance is organizing New Yorkers to demand a multibillion dollar federal rescue package for the MTA, acknowledging that public transit is essential to combatting and recovering from this unprecedented public health crisis.