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A NYC Councilmember’s Plan to Save Public Transit

A New York City councilmember’s plea: We can’t reopen the nation’s largest city without safe public transit. But it won’t be easy, or cheap.
A Metropolitan Transit Authority worker wearing a protective mask looks out the window of the subway as the F train departs Coney Island.
A Metropolitan Transit Authority worker wearing a protective mask looks out the window of the subway as the F train departs Coney Island.Holly Pickett/Bloomberg

The New York City subway has been a convenient target for pandemic blame, demonized as a vector of disease that spread the coronavirus poison through the veins of the city. The evidence for this theory is weak and largely advanced by opponents of mass transit and urban density. But it has plenty of New Yorkers worried.   

As the city begins to contemplate when and how to reopen, many New Yorkers are understandably very hesitant to get back on the subway, where we typically stand uncomfortably close to fellow riders from every corner of the city. Unlike the rest of the country, most New Yorkers don’t own cars, and only 27% use them to commute. Some city residents are now contemplating — often reluctantly — purchasing a car to get to work. But there’s just no way New York City can function with many more people driving to work.