NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The MTA chairman says the agency is looking at “everything” when it comes to providing New Yorkers a safe ride on mass transit, even if that means making reservations to ride the subway.

MTA Chairman Pat Foye – who has recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19 – said “everything is on the table” to protect riders.

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“Reservations would be a difficult thing to achieve but we think we’ve got an obligation to look at it and we’re going to look at everything that we think makes sense,” Foye said.

Among the changes being implemented, every MTA employee will have their temperature checked, Foye said.


“It is going to be mandatory for our customers and employees to wear masks, and we can’t emphasize how important that is,” he said.

Foye said the MTA is still working on how to implement social distancing on subways, adding the agency was considering a European model of “so many people per square meter.”

Foye said protecting customers on trains begins with wearing masks, staying home when sick, and daily cleaning and disinfecting of the subway system.

The chairman applauded 8,000 MTA employees who have returned to work from quarantine and are back on the job, and said that the agency expects to ramp up service as New York on PAUSE eventually gets eased in New York City.

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As far as the issue of homeless people on subways, Foye said more work needed to be done.

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“I think on the homeless issue, it is too early to declare victory. Clearly we’ve made progress,” he said. “We’ve got a great deal more to do with respect to making sure the city, making sure that the homeless get the services they need and the shelter that they’re legally entitled to. They should not be on the subways and buses at any time, but especially during a pandemic.”

Foye said the MTA needs another $3.9 billion in federal support “to keep the lights and to pay the payroll.”

As for rumors of a fare hike of up to $9, Foye called it a “nonstarter, period.”

He said that discussion came from a “back of the envelope exercise” by someone during an online webinar.

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“That ain’t going to happen,” he said. “We are acutely aware of the fact that all New Yorkers are under financial press as a result of the pandemic. I do not see and do not support any pandemic-related fare increase.”