No more free bus. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced it will resume front-door boarding and fare collection on all local and SBS buses on Monday, August 31.
Bus will look a little different. The partitions midway are coming down, increasing capacity by 40% and allowing for more room for passengers, as polycarbonate partitions and vinyl curtains get installed to protect the drivers. Other changes include blocking off the seat directly behind the bus operator, and moving the white line on the bus floor further away from the bus operator.
The polycarbonate sliders and vinyl curtains are expected to be installed on all 4,800 local buses in the fall, while the 1,000 express buses are expected to have them all this month. The MTA continues to block off the front two rows on express buses to allow distance between riders and the bus operator as well.
The MTA informed this morning that its bus revenue and bus ridership projections indicated a loss of approximately $431 million since March, based on regular pre-pandemic ridership. Had the MTA continued to collect fares from those taking the bus, it would have collected $159 million. The MTA faces a catastrophic shortfall in funds as the result of the pandemic and has requested $12 billion from the federal government to get through the end of 2021.
Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit, remarked that “Safety will always be our top priority. I’m grateful to our bus team for working closely with our labor partners to find a safe solution that protects operators and employees.”
“We have a comprehensive plan to enhance the safety of our operators and customers, who have chosen the bus system over other modes of transportation throughout this pandemic,” reassured Craig Cipriano, President of MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President of NYC Transit’s Department of Buses, before expressing his thanks to the bus drivers and asking customers to pay the fare and wear a mask.
MTA expects all Select Bus Service routes to have OMNY contactless payment installed by year’s end, and the project “remains on target”, said Al Putre, Chief Revenue Officer of New York City Transit and OMNY Program Executive.
On August 14 bus ridership reached more than 1.3 million riders, the highest ridership has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the MTA hopes it can keep the passengers safe. Some other features rolled out include:
- A capacity tracker. You can check the capacity of an approaching bus using a capacity tracking feature on the MYmta app. Unveiled last month, the technology has been activated across 40% of the fleet.
- Cleaner Air. The entire bus fleet (almost6,000 buses) is being upgraded with high-density air filters.
- Mask Dispensers. A pilot of a dispenser that holds about 50 surgical masks available to patrons without is underway in each borough – in Brooklyn, it’s on B38 local route between Ridgewood and Downtown Brooklyn.