New Yorkers using the MTA busses will once again have to pay their fares as they pass by new barriers being installed to protect drivers, Sarah Feinberg, interim president for the NYC Transit Authority, said on Tuesday.
As New York City enters Phase Three and more people return to work, ridership has rebounded more on buses than subways so far, said Feinberg in a discussion with Spectrum News1.
The MTA’s average weekday bus ridership in 2019 was 2.2 million. Bus ridership surpassed 1 million for the first time since the pandemic started on Friday, June 19, with ridership of 1,035,200. Bus ridership on Monday, June 29 was 1,083,976.
Since the end of March, buses have been essentially free, as riders have been entering through rear doors, and in order to protect the drivers, the riders were prohibited from dipping MetroCards or tossing coins into fare boxes which are located next to drivers.
However, Feinberg says this practice will end in August, as the pandemic is easing and the financial needs of the MTA is getting increasingly precarious.
“We have to open up the fare box again,” she said. “Our financial situation is dire. We can’t continue to not be collecting fares on buses.”
Feinberg also announced that the MTA is installing an innovative full-length vinyl curtain barrier across 4,800 local buses and 1,000 express buses to further enhance bus operator safety. Installations will begin this week and are expected to be completed by mid-August. These barriers will protect bus operators when passengers board.
Upon boarding, the operator will slide it forward and then push it back once they are ready to proceed driving. Express bus customers will continue to board through the front door, but will not be permitted to sit in the first row of the bus to ensure a safe distance is kept from the bus operator.
“The new barriers are part of our commitment to continuously protect bus operators when performing their heroic work of keeping this city moving,” Feinberg said. “We continue to disinfect buses around the clock, require all customers and employees to wear masks, and these new short-term solution barriers ensure we are doing everything possible to protect employees and riders.”