NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After losing nearly $160 million in just five months, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority started to charge bus riders again Monday.
The policy that allowed boarding from the rear without fare collection has come to an end.
It’s a return to pre-pandemic form.
For the first time in a long time, Stephon Breau entered a city bus through a front door and paid a fare, reported CBS2’s John Dias.
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“It was nice while it lasted,” Breau said. “It makes sense because we are getting acclimated back into life.”
Even during the pandemic, the Canarsie resident has been riding the bus at least three times a week. He and millions of others haven’t paid a fare since March, when the MTA implemented rear-door boarding to protect their drivers from the spread of COVID-19.
Today, that changed.
“Well, we had to pay sometime. They need money, they’ve got to pay their people,” said commuter Milton Hart.
The MTA has now installed special barriers on all 5,800 buses around drivers. Front seats are still blocked off, and the white line has been pushed back to keep a safe distance between the driver and riders, who must wear masks. The transition equates to 40% more space.
“I think that’s helpful,” said Astoria resident Dan Simbol. “Everything is pretty spread out. Nothing crazy.”
The MTA kept the fare the same amount of money, $2.75. Most riders Dias spoke with are relieved about that.
“A lot of this is about, you know, both protecting operators, giving riders more space, but also collecting fares again. We’ve lost about $160 million in the last couple of months. We haven’t been collecting fares,” said Interim New York City Transit Authority Interim President Sarah Feinberg.
But still, some commuters believe the MTA should have thought about slashing the fare cost.
“They should give a warning ahead of time and cut the prices down, considering everything the city went through,” said Bronx resident Anthony Manfredonia.
The MTA also installed mask dispensers on 360 buses across all five boroughs. A team of officers will be deployed throughout the system to remind customers to wear appropriate face coverings and enforce fare collection, the MTA said.
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