The MTA cut its service by 25 percent overnight Tuesday, concentrating its remaining service on morning and evening peaks due to a decreased staff. But commuters were already sounding the alarm Wednesday morning -- the new cuts are forcing New Yorkers dangerously close together in confined cars.
"How can we practice social distancing if we have to be in crowded trains like this? It puts us, our families and our employers in harm's way," commuter Luis Rivera said. He has been documenting the crowds on his commute to work on the A and L lines to the Upper West Side since Monday.
Photos: Slashed MTA Service Means People Crammed Together Again: NY Commuters
His and other commuters photos show riders sitting side-by-side on subway seats, and people less than 6-feet from each other in the cars. Rivera says with subways running at 75% service, the issue is only going to get worse and put New York's "essential workers" at risk.
"These trains are normally packed on any given day prior to the shutdown, but for it to look like this after a citywide shutdown -- its alarming. Those are mostly all essential workers in [my] pictures. Some are construction workers, nurses, doormen, porters, even MTA workers going and coming from their shifts."
Many worried commuters reached out to the MTA directly on Twitter to express their fears. Health and government officials have advised citizens to keep a 6-feet distance at least, for their own safety. New York has almost ten times the number of COVID-19 cases as the second-most infected state in the nation, New Jersey.
"Thank u! Now we can all be packed like sardines! Great way to practice social distancing. What planet does this make sense on?," one worried commuter tweeted, echoing many others.
The MTA replied to many of the tweets, and put out a notice in response. "We’re sorry to keep repeating ourselves, but: if you don’t have to travel, don’t. If you can, stay home. Help us limit crowding on our trains so our essential workers can travel safely. Their safety is our safety," it said.
It added that it was monitoring the situation "hour-by-hour." "Should you encounter a crowded train, let us know right away."