Still need change for subways


To the editor:

Resumption of round-the-clock New York City Transit subway service is good news. The Big Apple always has been a 24/7 town. More people work different hours from the old 9-to-5 decades ago.

There are still other outstanding issues to be resolved before most of the 5 million-plus pre-COVID-19 ridership will return. Many former riders will continue telecommuting full- or part-time, and may never come back.

Riders remain concerned about criminal activity, homelessness and periodic vandalism. This needs to be dealt with if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to see a return to pre-COVID-19 ridership numbers.

Have the police deal with more important issues than immigrant vendors selling churros and other products underground. It is time to return to the days when a transit police officer was assigned to ride each train and others patrolled stations. This, along with installation of security cameras on trains and at stations, might help to reduce the perception of growing crime.

Trade in all the former token booth employees who serve as “station ambassadors” to help pay for increasing police protection in our subways.

As more riders return, there also will be a potential increase of rats, mice and litter. Place more trashcans in stations. Consider installing separate cans for recycling newspapers, plastic and glass, along with regular garbage. Selling advertising on the side of cans could generate revenue to help cover the costs of more frequent off-peak and late-night collection and disposals.

Conductors should try and refrain from closing the doors while riders attempt to cross the platform attempting transfers from a local to the express train. If asked, the city’s sanitation department would consider doing the same on the street adjacent to subway station entrances.

There is a need to find better solutions to dealing with waiting for or riding the subway and having the “urge to go.” The odds of finding a working restroom may be too late. Until the early 1960s, most subway stations had clean, safe, working restrooms with toilet paper. Revenues generated from a 10-cent fee helped cover the costs.

Increase the number of open fully equipped restrooms at more of the 471 subway stations. Working restrooms are better than the current unpleasant alternatives, which contribute to dirty subways. Add to the number of stations that are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Here is one way to pay for all of the above, which would benefit most of the 5 million pre-COVID ridership: Do not initiate any new system expansion projects — such as the $6.9 billion Second Avenue subway second phase, or the $1.5 billion Metro-North Bronx east Penn Station access projects — until all of the above is accomplished.

Larry Penner

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Larry Penner,