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Is the Subway Risky? It May Be Safer Than You Think

(NEW YORK TIMES) September 12, 2020

Five months after the coronavirus outbreak engulfed New York City, riders are still staying away from public transportation in enormous numbers, often because they are concerned that sharing enclosed places with strangers is simply too dangerous.

But the picture emerging in major cities across the world suggests that public transportation may not be as risky as nervous New Yorkers believe.

In countries where the pandemic has ebbed, ridership has rebounded in far greater numbers than in New York City — yet there have been no notable superspreader events linked to mass transit, according to a survey of transportation agencies conducted by The New York Times.

Those findings could be evidence that subways, commuter railways and buses may not be a significant source of transmission, as long as riders wear masks and train cars or buses never become as intensely crowded as they did in pre-pandemic rush hours.

If the risks of mass transit can be addressed, that could have sweeping implications for many large American cities, particularly New York, where one of the biggest challenges in a recovery will be coaxing riders back onto subways, buses and suburban trains — a vast system that is the backbone of the region’s economy.

Source: NY TIMES