NJ Transit Ridership Dips 20% in Outbreak — Rail, Bus Agencies Keeping Extra Clean
Are people heeding the call to work from home and avoid large crowds? Mass transit ridership seems to indicate so.
NJ Transit says that its preliminary data indicates an approximate 20% drop in train and bus ridership since March 6 when the first positive cases began to be reported, according to spokeswoman Kate Thompson.
NJ Transit normally has more than 900,000 weekday riders.
As of Thursday afternoon, 29 cases had been diagnosed by state and private labs, including the March 10 death of John Brennan, 69, of Little Ferry. The Department of Health has not revealed if any of the affected individuals traveled on a bus or train but no specific steps have been announced regarding use of public transportation or any changes in service.
The Asbury Park Transportation Center's waiting room was closed by the city to encourage social distancing but the platforms for buses and trains were still open and service was unaffected.
Social distancing is being encouraged as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus. It means remaining out of group settings and maintaining distance of about 6 feet from others. Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday recommended that all public gatherings of more than 250 people be canceled in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
NJ Transit said it has enhanced its cleaning efforts to include disinfecting vehicles every 24 hours.
"Our enhanced cleaning regimen in stations includes additional disinfecting of frequent customer touch points such as ticket vending machines, handrails, and door handles. In major stations and terminals, this occurs once every shift," the agency said on its website.
NJ Transit is using products that contain anti-viral components such as bleach/water mixes and disinfectant sprays.
John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority, which operates the high speed PATCO rail line, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that there was a 6% decrease in ridership and if that trend continues there would likely be a cut in service and employees.
The high-speed line running between South Jersey and Philadelphia said it has also enhanced its cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and is running an awareness campaign promoting personal hygiene.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD knocked down a false text message being shared on social media claiming that subway service would be limited and the Metro North commuter line would be shut in an effort to contain Manhattan.
"NO, there is NO TRUTH to rumors about Manhattan being quarantined. Whoever is spreading this misinformation, PLEASE STOP NOW!" de Blasio wrote on his Twitter account.
The NYPD used all caps to dispel the rumor on its Twitter account.
"THERE IS A LOT OF MISINFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
"ONE TWEET IN PARTICULAR IS FALSE. CONTRARY TO WHAT IT SAYS THERE ARE NO PLANS BY THE NYPD TO SHUT DOWN ROADWAYS OR SUBWAYS."