NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can' to Combat Virus Spread

Commuters were encouraged to take alternate travel or at least avoid crowded buses and trains

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City and state officials issued new travel suggestions amid growing novel coronavirus cases in the tri-state area.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked sick people to stay off public transit, especially subways and buses.

Their warnings included a suggestion to avoid dense crowds on buses, subways and trains, or take alternate travel if possible.

"If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can," de Blasio said.

"Move to a train car that is not as dense. If you see a packed train car, let it go by. Wait for the next train. Same if you’re taking a bus," Cuomo said.

Avoiding public transit is not an option for most New Yorkers and they're not afraid to let the mayor know.

"Happy to ride a bike to work. Can you make it so people don’t die in Queens while biking? Vehicular deaths are a public health crisis too," one Twitter user said in response to de Blasio's announcement.

In the city's other effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, transit workers started to disinfect subway turnstiles, station handrails, MetroCard and ticket vending machines daily and other frequently used parts of the system, according to a statement from Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano.

The deep clean extends to Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Access-A-Ride services as well. In addition to the daily cleaning, the MTA says its full fleet of subway trains and buses will undergo sanitization every 72 hours.

Travel warnings extended to the seas on Sunday with an alert for travelers from the U.S. State Department.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Dept. said.

On Monday, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said in a press conference that the agency continues to monitor the situation and is in constant contact with state officials.

Foye echoed similar sentiments to those of Cuomo and de Blasio saying that if one can find an alternative to travel -- like walking or biking -- one should opt for that option because the agency's main priority is the "health of our costumers and our employees."

When asked if the outbreak has impacted the ridership and agency's revenue stream, Foye disclosed that it is too soon to tell if the outbreak.

Foye also mentioned that MTA officials who may have had contact at a transportation breakfast last week with Port Authority Executive Rick Cotton -- who was diagnosed with COVID-19 -- are in contact with health officials. Foye said that although he saw Cotton at the event, he did not interact with him and does not currently have plans to be tested for coronavirus.

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