NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Millions of people typically flock to mass transit in the days after Labor Day Weekend, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed all of that.

Subway platforms are often empty, as people are working from home. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is still open for business.

“The trains were still running, the trains were still coming. So the only difference is that it was a little cleaner, a little more lonely, a little more quiet,” Lower East Side resident Mason Brown told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

Brown said he needs the lights to stay on.

“I use all the train systems. I don’t drive, I don’t have a car. So I pretty much rely on transit,” he said. “You’re always going to get a seat — let’s put it that way.”

Because of the pandemic, the MTA says it’s serving fewer people. Compared to last year, subway ridership is down 72%, buses are down 53%, the Long Island Railroad has seen a 75% drop and Metro-North Railroad is down 80%.

MORE: MTA Says It Will Be Forced To Take Drastic Measures If Federal Government Doesn’t Provide $12 Billion In Aid

“This is probably only my second time taking an actual train in months,” said Carly Feibischoff, of the East Village.

Feibischoff isn’t alone. Many have opted to steer clear, though it’s still convenient.

“The train itself was way better than I was expecting, so much better,” she said. “It still is the fastest way and the cheapest way to travel around.”

Even with all the efforts the MTA has taken to make commuting safe, many don’t need it as they work from home or are without work. That’s helped contribute to the agency’s growing budget deficit.

On top of that, the MTA will expand service later this month when kids go back to school in the city. The agency anticipates adding 1,000 trips to its bus schedule.

Leadership has been begging Congress for help, but it might not be coming.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“You know how much the McConnell bill has in dollars for state and local aid and for mass transit to help our subways and buses? Zero, nada, a big goose egg,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday alongside a group of House members who represent the city.

“This bill provides nothing at all,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler.

“No money for the MTA, where the House bill provides approximately $4 billion,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries added.

“What do we get from the Senate? Nothing, nada,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat.

Without any assistance, if stations remain empty, the MTA says it could be forced to lay off as many as 8,400 workers by November.

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Comments
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