Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio came up with a subway solution, locking arms for the first time in two months, solving a subway crisis. But unique times demand creative actions.
By David Stone
The contrast was radical, the needs like nothing before.
In early March, Cuomo and de Blasio urged calm, go about your lives, reassurance. This was just after the first New York coronavirus case was confirmed. But two months later, a brutal storm of sickness and death brought them together again.
Now, the pair announced a first ever plan for daily shutdowns of the New York Subway. Scenes of homeless living on trains and rampant viral contamination forced action.
Cuomo’s & de Blasio’s Subway Solution
Subway ridership collapsed by over 90%. At least part of the reason was fear of getting sick from infections underground, and scenes of homeless men filling subway cars made it worse. Graphically.
Since March, both de Blasio and Cuomo held daily press briefings, reporting painful statistics and fast evolving solutions. Both earned national attention.
Although they haven’t halted the coronavirus yet, they’ve slowed the devastation, and as all eyes are on slowly reopening the city, making vital transit safe forces action.
First, clean up the mess…
No one’s going to ride filthy trains or enter cars serving as living quarters for homeless men without face masks or social distancing.
The Cuomo/de Blasio subway solution started with a plan to empty all trains as they reached their terminals. Forcing homeless off.
There, city workers could offer help and transport to proper shelters.
But that wasn’t enough. Thoroughly cleaning the cars takes time, and without that, riders wouldn’t come back.
“We’ve never been here before. This is going to be one of the most aggressive, creative, challenging undertakings that the M.T.A. has done.”Governor Andrew Cuomo
The Gothamist, April 30th, 2020
Yesterday, the pair took it a radical step further.
Beginning Wednesday, May 5th, all subway service ceases from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. daily, giving transit workers adequate time to fully clean and disinfect all the cars.
To help the 11,000 currently using subways during those hours, Cuomo announced an additional plan.
Details are thin now, but the MTA will offer riders who prove their travel is essential free trips on for-hire vehicles. There will also be free rides on buses and in dollar vans.
Essential workers get a hotline for rides.
Only hurricanes forced such extensive changes before, a fact telling its own story about how the coronavirus pounds New York City.