At New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, subway ridership is steadily climbing post-pandemic and two former Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointees are being forced out. In addition, behavioral health providers will ride St. Louis (Mo.) Metro Transit vehicles as part of a one-year pilot project.
MTA New York City Transit on Oct. 14 set a new pandemic-era record of 3,236,904 subway riders, surpassing by nearly 50,000 the previous high set on Oct. 7. MTA Staten Island Railway also set a record on Oct. 14, carrying 7,367 riders for a combined total of 3,244,271. Overall, the subway system has carried more than 3 million riders eight times in October so far, the agency reported.
Additionally, NYC subway service delivery—the percentage of scheduled trains that are provided during peak hours, measured along the busiest part of the line—improved to 92% in October, with daily delays down by more than 13%.
Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded 5.5 million in the subway system. That figure fell by 95% to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips in April 2020 as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in the New York City area.
In other news, the New York Daily News has reported that MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd—“brought on board in November 2019 as part of an agency reorganization mandated by Cuomo and the state legislature”—will step down by year’s end, and Chief Transformation Officer Anthony McCord—“hired to oversee the reorganization”—resigned on Oct. 15.
McCord “resigned weeks after a state comptroller report found his team pushed to cut too many front-line MTA jobs, which exacerbated a crew shortage that has crippled mass transit service across the city for months,” the news outlet reported.
“Neither McCord or Dowd resigned by choice, sources said,” according to the Daily News report.
Patrick Foye, who led the MTA as President and then as Chairman and CEO for the past four years, left the agency on July 30. Interim NYCT President Sarah Feinberg left on July 31, citing that the job took too much time from her family. Janno Lieber, former head of the MTA’s construction and development arm, became acting Chair and CEO, effective July 31.
St. Louis Metro Transit has received $350,000 from Bi-State Development to place behavioral health providers on board MetroLink and MetroBus vehicles as part of a one-year pilot project. Two, two-person teams from Chestnut Health Systems will work 40 hours per week to address transit-related issues involving riders who live with substance use disorder and/or mental health conditions, according to the agency. Transit security personnel, who will receive mental health awareness and de-escalation training, will work alongside the Chestnut teams.
The project will focus on the North Hanley Transit Center and the Civic Center Transit Center. Its aims include:
• Reducing system “loitering by ‘all-day’ riders and those using Metro Transit centers for non-transportation related needs.”
• Addressing alcohol and drug use on the system.
• Reducing “panhandling, argumentativeness, sleeping and other behaviors that can impact operations.”
• Providing early detection and intervention for riders who need services.
• Improving the visibility of Metro Transit system safety, security and rider satisfaction initiatives.
• Improving communication between riders and security staff.
“The behavioral health teams will deliver early intervention and treatment services,” Metro Transit said. “Riders/visitors in need will receive in-the-moment crisis intervention and behavioral health support. Those willing to engage will be connected to services provided by Chestnut or by another provider. Help might be in the form of temporary shelter, food and/or medication. When the behavioral health teams are not available, Metro Transit security personnel will have access to behavioral health consultation and help by phone or video link.”