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Cars are back as the MTA seeks to get NY back to work

An aerial photograph showing the Throgs Neck Bridge

An aerial photograph showing the Throgs Neck Bridge on March 1, 2020. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

Daily Point

MTA sees increased traffic on bridges, tunnels as NY reopens

The cars are back.

Traffic on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bridges and tunnels has doubled since its low point in early April, an MTA source told The Point Friday.

On April 9, only about 300,000 vehicles traveled over bridges and tunnels in a single day. At that point, traffic was down nearly 70 percent from a year ago.

This week, more than 600,000 vehicles traveled over MTA bridges and tunnels in a given day — down 37 percent compared with a year ago. It’s the first time the percentage decline was below 40 percent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Year to date, bridge-and-tunnel traffic remains down 29 percent compared to the same period a year ago, the MTA said.

Meanwhile, the MTA has seen a small uptick in ridership on the subways, buses and commuter rails, the source told The Point. But it seems most area residents who are starting to leave their homes more are, for now, choosing to take their cars.

But the MTA is getting ready for when that, too, shifts. MTA Chief Executive Pat Foye issued an open letter to businesses Friday, requesting that they stagger work hours, create more flexibility in start times, or allow more employees to work from home, to spread out when riders are using mass transit.

“Implementing policies such as staggered hours, especially starting later in the morning, would make a world of difference in helping spread out the peak,” Foye wrote. 

The MTA also has been surveying subway and bus riders regarding their concerns about returning to public transit after the coronavirus pandemic. While the MTA doesn’t have plans to survey Long Island Rail Road riders, the authority is starting to talk with key employers to determine their plans for reopening, and what employees will need.

The MTA also has emphasized the importance of the public transit system for the region’s comeback. In response to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that seemed to emphasize driving, Foye said in a statement earlier Friday that public transit is “the safest way to move around any city.”

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point


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Final Point

A hero's sacrifice

When the coronavirus hit, Dr. James Mahoney of Freeport was about to retire. Instead, he continued serving public hospital patients in Brooklyn, until he fell ill and died from the virus himself. 

Episode 25 of “Life Under Coronavirus” looks at the life of a pioneering black doctor and mentor to countless New York physicians, a “legend” with a “deep sense of morality” who gave patients his cell phone number and practiced his craft until the end. 

It’s also about the frenzied situation in New York hospitals over the last few months. At one of the hospitals where Mahoney worked, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, beds were placed in the cafeteria and a resident physician started a GoFundMe drive for respirators, gowns, headnets, and more. Mahoney’s father tells Newsday Opinion that he was worried about his son not having enough personal protective equipment at the hospital. Dr. Robert Foronjy, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at SUNY Downstate, said PPE was short but sufficient — but not stocked in every room. And Mahoney was the type of doctor who would head right into a room to help when a code rang, even if he just had a mask and gloves, according to Foronjy.

As the hospital struggles to get back to normal, the beds have been moved out of the cafeteria, not used, says Foronjy. But there are still no tables in the cafeteria and staff face the prospect of life without Mahoney. 

Listen here.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano


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