NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is close to reaching all seven benchmarks needed to begin Phase 1 of the reopening of the economy.

And when that happens, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority expects ridership to increase.

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As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Wednesday, the agency has a plan to keep commuters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The MTA says ridership is up this month over last. In April it was 9% of what it would normally see and the uptick this month is to 11.5%.

It’s slight, the agency said, but enough that some riders have noticed.

“More people coming back to work,” one woman said.

“Lately, yes. Yeah, definitely,” a man added.

“We are generally seeing about 10,000 to 20,000 more riders each day, each weekday,” said Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of the New York City Transit Authority.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Feinberg said on CNBC she still wants primarily essential workers only on the trains, and everyone must wear masks.

“You will need to wear one and so if you come into the system and you’re not wearing one, you should expect to either be told to put one on or to leave the system and come back when you have one,” Feinberg said.

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Feinberg conceded there will be times people cannot keep six feet apart on trains. She said she’s hopeful employers to be more creative scheduling work shifts.

“Stagger the days that they’re going to have workers in the workplace so that we can still have social distancing on the transit system,” Feinberg said.

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The entire system is struggling, with ridership down and plans changing on the fly during the pandemic.

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CBS2 demanded to know how prepared the agency actually is, including on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. Carlin spoke to LIRR President Phil Eng.

“People want to know, is there a solid plan?” Carlin asked.

“Absolutely, a solid plan in place,” Eng replied.

He said under Phase 1 of the Long Island reopening, the daily disinfecting of trains and stations will continue and train cars will get added, from eight to 10 or even 12, something he said the platforms can handle.

“It gives more people the ability to walk through a car, spread out, and we’ll be monitoring this, too,” Eng said.

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Carlin asked if here would be any fare increases and he said no hikes system wide are expected as a result of COVID-19, as the agency’s focus continues to be pushing for federal rescue money.