MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye appeared live today on WCBS 880 with Steve Scott to discuss the return to 24/7 subway service, the agency’s COVID safety measures, and how transit will continue to power the region’s post-pandemic recovery.
A transcript of the interview appears below.
Steve Scott: After a more than a year of partial overnight shutdowns for pandemic cleaning, the New York City subways are once again running 24/7. Let's see how it went this morning on day one. Live to our Newsline, and MTA Chairman Pat Foye. Mr. Foye, good morning. It's got to feel good to be back to 24/7 service?
Patrick Foye: Steve is sure does. We restored service. It went uneventfully. We'll report later this morning or later today, the number of passengers in the time period from 2 to 4, but it's really great news for New York, and great news for workers, restaurants, bars, etc., and those patronizing them. All good for New York.
Scott: We understand that this isn't the end to pandemic cleaning of trains. They’ll still be cleaned at terminal stations. Tell us what that means?
Foye: Yeah, so a terminal station is the end of the line. And at the end of the line, we're going to ask passengers to leave the train and continue as we have since the pandemic started, a disinfecting regime. We're not going to clean cars where there are passengers sitting on them. But we've become a lot more efficient and conversant with how to get the disinfecting, which has never been done before until the pandemic, get that done efficiently and without customer disruption.
Scott: What does this mean to New York City's recovery from the pandemic?
Foye: I think it's incredibly important for a couple of reasons. One is New York is a city that never sleeps. So psychologically to return 24/7 subway service to our customers and to New York is incredibly important. As an economic matter it will make it easier for both patrons of businesses, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc., and those who work at them to get to and from those locations, and their homes. Really important from a job creation point of view and psychological point of view, all good for New York, Steve.
Scott: You and I last spoke on Friday just hours after a series of subway slashings. I'm sure there have been more conversations with the City and the NYPD about adding more officers to the transit system. What can you tell us?
Foye: So, here's where I’d start. One is I want to commend the excellent police work that the NYPD made in making arrests on that case, and the case at Columbus Circle on the train. We maintain our urgent request for additional police officers, uniform full-time police officers on the subway system as well as mental health resources. We think that's incredibly important. We're grateful for the action that the police commissioner has already taken, in terms of dedicating 80 members of the new graduating class of the NYPD to the Transit Bureau, adding auxiliary police. But we do believe that we need hundreds more full-time uniformed police officers as well as mental health resources, to address the substantive issue, but also the perception that our customers have. 75% of them in a survey said that those taking the subway now, crime and harassment was their single most important issue.
Scott: Before I let you go quickly, will early morning and overnight riders see cops in the transit system?
Foye: The answer is yes, they should.
Scott: All right, MTA Chairman Pat Foye, as always thank you for talking with us this morning.
Foye: Thank you Steve.