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Can 8 million daily drivers be lured back to local transport?



As New York City prepares to reopen after one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, officials are trying to avoid a new catastrophe – the standstill that could result if many people continue to avoid public transport and turn to cars instead.

Before the crisis, every day of the week, eight million people in the region – including over 50 percent of the city’s population – used a complex network of subways, buses, and railroads that has long been a living symbol of the largest metropolis in the United States. After the outbreak broke out, the number of drivers dropped as workers stayed at home to slow the spread of the virus.

Now the city is facing a dilemma: encouraging people to return to local transportation could increase the risk of new infections. However, the region’s roads, tunnels and bridges cannot cope with an increase in car traffic and there are few alternatives.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees most of the system, announced on Friday that it would introduce a plan to lure drivers back, including starting up the traffic congestion reduction service, using the police to enforce mask use, and more Report stationing of workers in the entire subway overcrowding.

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted that public transport may not be the preferred first option once the city may reopen on June 8th. “Some people will feel comfortable in local transport, others will not,” de Blasio told reporters. “You can see people use their cars more in the short term.”

The mayor has so far refused to take comprehensive measures to prevent traffic from increasing or to encourage commuters who are wary of the subway to use other modes of transport such as bicycles.

“There is not always a way to constantly help people with their transportation needs,” said de Blasio. “People have to improvise and I think they will.”

Cities around the world face similar challenges. Social distancing is difficult in public transport systems that are designed to efficiently move large numbers of people. However, they are seen as crucial for the reopening of companies and the recovery of stuck economies.

In the United States, the main indicator, according to Elucd, is whether people are comfortable going back to work or whether they would be using public transportation.

“The main concern of people trying to work is not to adhere to policies or procedures, but to behave in a manner that endangers them,” said Michael Simon, managing director of Elucd, especially strangers on crowded trains and buses.

He later abruptly changed course and announced that the city would temporarily block 100 miles of roads for cars during the pandemic – or about one percent of the city’s 8,000 miles of road. Some of these road closures can be permanent.

“In New York, we’re hesitant, we’re making false starts and we’re not strategic,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group.

Some cities that had been closed before New York had already seen an increase in car traffic: in early April, when Chinese officials lifted home orders, several major cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou were more congested during rush hour than last year .

In Europe, cities have taken aggressive steps to avoid overloading cars by offering alternatives to returning commuters.

Brussels, London, Milan and Paris have announced plans to add miles of new bike lanes, while London has also raised the price of traffic jams for riders going downtown.

“People are usually so used to the way streets were that they can’t imagine it, but people’s thoughts are open at the moment,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, a former New York City traffic commissioner who has worked with cities like Milan on their transportation programs after the pandemic. “You have this moment to redesign our streets and make the changes we wanted in the future a reality.”

This possibility is underlined by developments in New York, where people flocked to other modes of transport.

In May, the number of trips with Revel, a rideshare service for electric scooters in Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Manhattan, increased by over 200 percent compared to the pre-pandemic. Bicycle shops have had record sales with long lines of customers.

Active memberships at Citi Bike, the city’s bike share program, rose to over 157,000 in May – an all-time high for the system.

  • Updated June 1, 2020

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      Sports researchers and doctors have some clear advice for those of us who want to do sports regularly again: Start slowly and then speed up your workout, even slowly. American adults tend to be 12 percent less active in March than when they started to stay at home in March. However, there are steps you can take to safely return to normal exercise. First, “Start with no more than 50 percent of the exercise you did before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, chief physician for musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Also thread some prep squats, she advises. “If you haven’t exercised, you will lose muscle.” After these preliminary sessions after the lockdown, expect some muscle tension, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clear call to stop and return home.

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      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available and more and more companies are allowed to reopen. The federal government largely leaves the decision to the states, and some heads of state leave the decision to the local authorities. Even if you are not asked to stay at home, it is still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

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      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting them with the germs is usually not a spread of the virus. But it can happen. A number of studies on flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus, and other microbes have shown that respiratory diseases, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, especially in daycare, offices, and hospitals. However, a long chain of events must occur for the disease to spread in this way. The best way to protect yourself against corona viruses – whether on the surface or in close human contact – is still social distancing, washing hands, touching the face, and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or difficulty breathing. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection more difficult, but runny noses and blocked sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle aches, sore throats, headaches, and a new loss of taste or smell as symptoms to watch out for. Most people get sick five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms can appear as early as two or 14 days.

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      If air travel is inevitable, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. Most importantly, wash your hands frequently and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study by Emory University found that during the flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is a window, since people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you arrive at your seat and your hands are clean, clean the hard surfaces of your seat with disinfectant wipes such as head and armrests, seat belt buckles, remote control, screen, seat back pocket and storage table. If the seat is hard and not porous or made of leather or leather, you can also wipe it. (Using cloths on upholstered seats can cause the seat to get wet and germs to spread instead of killing them.)

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      Over 40 million people – one in four US workers – have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic broke out. One in five who worked in February said they lost a job or were on vacation in March or early April. Data from a Federal Reserve poll released on May 14 showed that low-income pain was highly concentrated. A full 39 percent of former workers who live in a household and lose $ 40,000 or less work compared to 13 percent of those who earn more than $ 100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks when going out in public. This is a shift in federal guidelines that reflects new concerns that the coronavirus is spread by infected people without symptoms. So far, the C.D.C. like the W.H.O. advised that normal people do not have to wear masks unless they are sick and cough. One reason for this was the storage of medical masks for healthcare workers who they urgently need at a time when they are in short supply. Masks do not replace hand washing and social distancing.

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      Charity Navigator, which assesses charities using a number-based system, has a list of nonprofits that work in communities affected by the outbreak. You can donate blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has intervened to distribute meals in big cities.


Kendall Miller, a 33-year-old manager of a real estate company, occasionally used her bike for sports. But when the pandemic broke out, it started running errands and seeing friends. When she returns to her office, she plans to avoid the subway by bike.

“From now on I would only do it by bike,” she said.

The city’s traffic commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, said the de Blasio government is determined to investigate how the city can benefit from the recent shift to bicycles and other forms of “micromobility”.

“Absolutely, this is a critical point,” said Ms. Trottenberg. “How can we reopen our city and our economy while preserving the positive things we’ve seen recently – roads that are safer and quieter and can better serve bus drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians?”

The C.D.C. The guidelines were later changed to encourage cycling, walking and driving with household members, as well as driving alone.

While car sales in New York and across the country have declined during the pandemic, industry analysts say low interest rates and cheap gasoline could attract buyers as restrictions tighten and dealers are allowed to reopen.

“We are still pretty deep in a pandemic and the question remains whether another group of buyers shows up to buy cars?” said David Steinberg, founder of Foureyes, a company that works with car dealerships. “The reality is, we probably don’t know yet.”

There is already a lot of talk about buying cars in New Yorkers on social media.

In Astoria, Queens, Nina Fiore said she and her husband are considering buying a weekend trip car after speaking to friends who drive to parks “where they can distance themselves better and let the kids play and run around”.

And if her husband had to go back to work in Manhattan before there was a coronavirus vaccine, they would prefer him to go instead of taking the subway.

Even Doug Gordon, a Brooklyn-based cyclist and host of the podcast “The War on Cars,” says he and his wife can buy a car to spend the summer with their two children and give the family flexibility when traveling.

“It’s surprising even for me,” he said. “The I from three months ago against the I from now – it’s a completely different conversation.”

If the city doesn’t take ambitious steps to redesign its streets soon, it will lose the unique opportunity to diversify the way New Yorkers move, experts say. After almost every catastrophe that pulled drivers out of the subway – the 9/11 attack, hurricanes and train derailments – New York’s commuter traffic finally returned to normal before the crisis.

“There have been several moments in my 50-year career in New York City,” said Samuel I. Schwartz, consultant and former city traffic commissioner. “We should use this moment. The question will be whether there is political will to do so. “


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