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Here are the Safety Precautions NYC Public Transportation is Taking During Coronavirus

Here are the Safety Precautions NYC Public Transportation is Taking During Coronavirus

While the best way to stay safe is to avoid subways, buses, and trains as much as possible, here are safety precautions you can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus if you need to ride NYC public transportation.


As the city moves into the various phases of reopening, more and more people will begin riding NYC public transportation to get to work—but what safety precautions are being taken to ensure everyone’s safety on NYC public transportation? Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that riders themselves will be responsible for making the subways and buses safe by following social distancing protocols and taking other safety precautions, and the MTA, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Metro-North are implementing safety precautions and protocols to help keep everyone safe. As people begin to adjust to this summer’s “new normal,” here’s what you need to know to prevent the spread of coronavirus and stay safe when riding NYC public transportation.  

What safety precautions can I take while riding NYC public transportation?

Waleed Javaid, M.D., director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mount Sinai Downtown, says it’s important for people to acknowledge that while there may be a decrease in coronavirus cases, we are not yet in a “post-COVID” time. The best way to stay safe is to avoid NYC public transit unless absolutely necessary, and to continue social distancing, he says. 

Though if you do need to ride NYC public transportation, you’ll reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus as long as you follow safety precautions: 

  • Wear a mask at all times: Masks not only prevent germs from being spread, but they also prevent you from touching your face with unclean hands.

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently: Keep wipes or hand sanitizer on your person whenever you’re in public, since a sink with soap isn’t always readily available. Dr. Javaid adds that you should wash your hands even if you don’t think that you have touched any common surface.

  • Keep your distance from people: “If you see a car that is full where you are not able to socially distance, and the same is true in an elevator or any closed area, you should wait for the next one to come,” Dr. Glade Bender, vice chair for Clinical Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, says. 

“The key is that you’re not going to get this virus from touching something that has virus on it,” Glade Bender says. “You are only going to get this virus if you touch something that has virus on it and then you pick your nose, or touch your eyes, or put your fingers in your mouth.” 

What safety precautions are the MTA, Metro-North, LIRR, and NJT taking to keep riders safe?

The MTA, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Metro-North are all implementing guidelines and safety precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

The MTA’s Coronavirus Safety Guidelines:

The MTA released a plan of action to ensure a safe return to NYC public transportation, including:

  • Subways will continue to shut down from 1-5am each morning so the MTA can clean and disinfect the trains and stations. (Some trains and buses will run during this time for essential workers.)

  • Frequent touch points on subway cars, buses, and Access-A-Ride vehicles will be disinfected every 24 hours. A crew will be cleaning during the day and overnight in terminals, and overnight in yards and bus depots.

  • Riders must wear face masks to keep themselves and their fellow riders safe.



  • The MTA will check employees’ temperatures regularly, and constantly disinfect work spaces. 

  • Staff will be present to help riders navigate through stations. NYPD and MTA PD will also be present to assist, but have been directed not to make any arrests or write summons over masks and crowding. 

  • The MTA will distribute mini hand sanitizers throughout stations, in addition to having hand sanitizer dispensers available for use.  

  • Yellow markers have been placed to encourage social distancing and mask-wearing.

  • The MTA will provide masks for riders who do not have them, thanks to city contributions. 

  • Riders are encouraged to use OMNY, the MTA’s contactless payment method, if they are able. 

  • The MTA will publicize daily ridership to show New Yorkers how many people are riding public transit. 

Long Island Rail Road’s Coronavirus Safety Precautions:

  • The LIRR will increase service to avoid overcrowding, and will offer some weekday service to Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue.

  • Riders are required to wear masks at all times in LIRR stations and on trains

  • Ticket windows will be open at Penn Station 24/7, and at Jamaica Station and Atlantic Terminal from 6am-10pm daily. Ticket windows at suburban stations will remain closed until further notice. 

  • Riders are encouraged to buy tickets on MTA eTix for a safe and contactless purchase. People will not be able to purchase tickets with cash at ticket windows or on trains. For riders that must use cash, the Ticket Machine is available. 

  • South Fork Commuter Connection train service remains suspended.

New Jersey Transit’s Coronavirus Safety Precautions:

  • Executive Order 125 requires NJ TRANSIT to limit occupancy by passengers to 50 percent of the stated maximum vehicle capacity on all buses, trains, and light rail vehicles. 

  • Customers and personnel onboard vehicles must wear a face covering at all times.

  • Riders are urged to sign up for My Transit alerts, download the NJ TRANSIT Mobile App, and stay connected with NJ transit on social media for the latest information.

  • For bus safety, riders can buy tickets in advance using the NJ TRANSIT mobile app to remain contactless; rear-door boarding has been implemented; and seats near the operator have been blocked off to maintain social distancing.

Metro-North’s Coronavirus Safety Precautions:

  • Masks are required for all riders.

  • Riders can purchase tickets on the MTA eTix mobile app, or with cash at ticket vending machines. Tickets cannot be purchased with cash onboard. 

  • While most ticket offices are still closed, the following will be open on weekdays only:

    •  Grand Central Terminal: 6am-10:30pm

    • White Plains: 6am-10:30pm

    • Stamford, CT: 6am-11pm

  • The lower level at Grand Central Terminal will be open, with some booths open for takeout or delivery. 

  • There will be increased service to avoid overcrowding during morning and evening rush hours.

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Jamie Fischer

Author: Jamie Fischer is an editorial intern for Davler Media Group/NYMetroParents. She is a rising sophomore at Lehigh University, and enjoys playing tennis and spending time outdoors with her friends. See More

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