NYC Subway Suspension Drags On for 3 Lines as Staff Drifts Back
(Bloomberg) -- Three New York City Subway lines are on week two of being suspended while the Metropolitan Transit Authority grapples with a staffing shortage due to the omicron surge.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the U.S.’s largest transit system, said it is starting to see a decline in the number of workers who are out as they tested positive for Covid, but service adjustments remain necessary. The MTA has suspended the B, W and Z lines -- which connect Manhattan with the outer boroughs.
Currently, 6.3% of the system’s 67,000-person workforce is out due to Covid, down from 11% during the week of Dec. 27, according to the MTA. A spokesperson declined to say what percentage of the roughly 6,300 subway operators and conductors remained off work, but said it was lower than the 21% of staff that were out the first week of January.
The subway serves as a lifeline for the city and the suspended and delayed trains make it harder for those who rely on the transit system to get to their jobs. More than 55% of workers depend on public transportation.
Roughly 9.2 million people rode the subway during the week ended Jan. 7, up 9.9% from the previous week. That’s down 68% from the average recorded in 2019, before the pandemic caused widespread disruptions.
MTA Chief Executive Officer Janno Lieber said declining case counts bode well for the transit system and that things were heading in the “right direction.”
“We’re going to be able to start thinking about restoring those services as our workforces bounce back,” Lieber said Thursday in a local television interview.
The city’s Covid cases and hospitalizations are showing signs of peaking, but remain elevated. Nearly 29% of Covid tests came back positive on Jan. 10, down from a third earlier this month, according to city data.
Around 74% of bus and subway workers have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 94% of adults in New York City. The MTA, a state-run agency, does not have to follow the city’s vaccination mandate for employees.
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