A bus driver sits in his vehicle at a bus stop amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

As the country continues to open city by city, there are questions regarding how public transportation is being prepared. Over recent days, public transit has been prepping and setting guidelines for people to follow to make sure everyone stays safe. The CDC recently released new guidance as to when it is deemed safe to open public transit. Cities such as Greenville, South Carolina, are donating masks to their public transit employees to ensure their safety, while Oswego County in New York is minimizing the number of buses and trains running per day.  

Even though some cities are optimistic about the reopening, others worry about the issues to come. One issue is the fear people will have with getting back on a bus or train. This fear could potentially lead to more cars on the road and increased traffic congestion. Ideas are being rolled out for reserved seating on public transit to try and combat this potential problem. Governor Cuomo mentioned the need for a rebuild of infrastructure during this time stating “now is the time to do it.” 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Did New York City just give up on public transit? – Curbed NY – 5/27/2020
In the five months since Andy Byford resigned as New York City Transit chief, the U.S.’s largest transportation system has undergone an unimaginable transformation due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ridership has plummeted. Budgets have been decimated. And, in that short time, a two-tier transportation system has emerged, where the wealthy continue to work from home or commute in private cars, while essential workers ride crowded trains.

MA: ‘All about survival’ for Cape Cod public transportation providers – Mass Transit – 5/28/2020
What does the future hold for the local transportation providers? They’d be hard pressed to tell you; they are worried about making it month to month. “Right now, it’s about survival,” said Daniel Wolf, Cape Air founder. The Steamship Authority is mandated by the state to keep running ferries to the islands, even if it means losing millions of dollars a month in the process.

BART “Rides Out” Virus Pain, Hopes For Future Ridership Gain – Radio.com – 5/28/2020
BART General Manager Bob Powers believes to get riders back, he thinks of it as a three legged stool, led by the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine that will give people a sense of confidence that its ok to commute by public rail again. “If you don’t have a job to go back to you’re not gonna be riding the system,” Powers said. “So when the economy comes back on, the GDP starts to come around, you know, thats the other leg of the stool.”

‘New normal’ on MBTA buses, trains redefines what is considered ‘crowded’ – Boston Business Journal – 5/27/2020
The MBTA has implemented new temporary safety measures across the transit system that have drastically reduced the number of passengers allowed on buses and trains before they’re considered crowded.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Senator Scott Wiener on Twitter, 5/28/2020: We can’t just assume our public transit systems will survive the pandemic. We need to *ensure* they survive. We need to be intentional about it. We must support our transit systems through this crisis. Our future depends on it.

Halifax Transit on Twitter, 5/28/2020: In keeping with public health recommendations, Halifax Transit encourages riders to wear masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We will not be providing masks and will not deny entry to riders without a mask. Do not use transit if feeling ill.

Bigad Shaban on Twitter, 5/28/2020: Now @BartDirector Debora Allen is making comments at the #BART board meeting: “The public wants to see safe, reliable transit…they won’t come back if we don’t get our house in order.” “It’s going to take a lot more enforcement to get riders to come back.”

PABT. Stay Home. Stop the Spread. on Twitter, 5/28/2020: For everyone’s safety, please comply with New York and New Jersey Executive Orders to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth while on public transit. Thank you for doing your part to #FlattentheCurve and #StoptheSpread.

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