NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As New York City enters Phase 2, the MTA is taking steps to ensure the health and safety of all customers with thermal scanners in subway stations.
WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg reports the scanners are meant to detect any person with a temperature over a certain threshold, to potential detect coronavirus.
A number of the scanners have already been set up at MTA headquarters at 2 Broadway in Manhattan.
“By the end of the month there will be portals with thermal scanners and we are considering an absolutely,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye.
About 15% of MTA staff will return to the office beginning July 6.
With hundreds of thousands of people returning to work under Phase 2 of New York City’s reopening, there have also been calls to restore 24-hour service on the subways.
Currently, the subway system is shut down for cleaning every night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Committee on Transportation, has demanded service be restored for those who do not have access to other transportation methods.
“Many workers, especially working class – immigrants, undocumented – those are who have been seen as essential workers. Those are who have not been connected with Uber and Lyft and other transportation – they relied on our trains,” he says.
In a statement the MTA said Rodriguez was “pandering to advance his political campaign” and noted that the nightly shutdown is crucial for proper disinfection of trains.
In an interview with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott, MTA Chairman Foye explained that subway service is operating at 100% pre-pandemic levels while serving about 20% of the ridership.
As the city entered Phase 2, he said the MTA was preparing for more riders to hit the rails, and with the nightly shutdowns they are looking to ramp up bus service even more.
“We had been operating about 75% of pre- pandemic bus service in Manhattan, that will now be 90% – we’ve increased service on some of the crosstown buses and the M60 that goes to LaGuardia,” Foye said. “So we are prepared.”
The agency is also adding more service to Metro-North.
“On Metro-North this morning we added additional 12 east of Hudson trains, two in the morning on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines, and two in the afternoon evening on each of those lines,” he said.
The MTA Chairman says those who have been on the transit network say that it’s never been cleaner.
“In excess of 70% of our customers tells us that the subway stations and subway cars have never been cleaner. Importantly, we have done physical counts of mask compliance,” Foye said. “MTA employees we believe universal compliance with the mask. Latest physical count indicates that 95% of our customers are wearing masks. Public health officials around the country and around the world agree that the most important thing one can do in any environment is wear a mask.”
Though, it remains unclear as to when 24/7 service will return to the subway system.
While Foye said it will return eventually, but not anytime in the near future.
“I think the pandemic will be over when the Governor and public health officials declare it to be over. Obviously, we are all hoping and praying for that sooner rather than later. There’s concerns about spikes, in some, not in New York, but in some other parts of the country, so I’m not going to provide an estimate because that is not a knowable date right now. But there will again be 24-hour service on the subways in the future,” the chairman said.
Until then, the subways will continue to be disinfected every night.
“We are taking advantage of the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. closure to disinfect every subway car and every station, but also to allow the City of New York Department of Homeless Services to be able to provide medical and mental health services and shelter to the unsheltered,” Foye said. “No one benefits including the homeless from them living on the streets or living on subways. We’re going to continue that closure while the pandemic continues, and we are going to use that time to continue to disinfect subway cars and stations.”