Sturdy, protective sliding partitions installed on 4,800 local buses

January 27, 2021 Editorial Staff
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Express buses are next, says MTA


MTA New York City Transit on Tuesday announced that it has completed the installation of protective see-through polycarbonate sliding partitions, similar to Plexiglas but chemically different, on all 4,800 local buses across the five boroughs.

The barriers installed near the bus operator’s compartment add an extra layer of protection for employees and customers and allow more space for social distancing. Department of Buses engineering personnel worked with manufacturers to complete the process at an accelerated pace, overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

As a temporary measure, some buses had been equipped with vinyl curtains. Those curtains have now been fully replaced with the more sturdy polycarbonate sliding partitions.

Installations were coordinated and performed across 28 bus depots and three overhaul facilities with more than 17,000 hours of work going into installation, design, procurement and fabrication.

Brooklyn itself has seven bus depots, ranging from the East New York Bus Depot (one of the largest, adjacent to the MTA’s Bus Command Center) to the Flatbush Depot (actually near Kings Plaza) to the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot (on Fifth Avenue between 36th and 39th streets in Gowanus, named for the TV comedian who invented the fictional Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden) to the Ulmer Park Bus Depot in Bath Beach, the only one in the borough to maintain express buses.

Since the resumption of front-door boarding in August, buses have up to 40 percent more space on them, allowing for social distancing. The white line on the bus floor, behind which riders are expected to stand, continues to remain pushed back, allowing for more social distancing from the bus operator.

All 1,000 express buses, however, still have a full-length vinyl curtain to isolate the bus operator when passengers board, which can move forward and backward in place. Unlike the majority of buses, two front rows of seats on express buses remain blocked off to maintain social distancing between the bus operator and passengers.

The MTA is currently in the development and early pilot stages to create a more permanent barrier for express buses – with installations expected to begin in the coming months.–>

The transit agency has several Brooklyn express bus routes, connecting Sheepshead Bay, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Sea Gate, Gerritsen Beach and Starrett City with Downtown and Midtown Manhattan.

“Our frontline heroes continue moving New York City during this pandemic and we are collaborating with our union partners to continue protecting both our employees and customers who are our first priority,” said Craig Cipriano, president of the MTA Bus Company and senior vice president for Buses of New York City Transit.

“This is a significant accomplishment and a step in the right direction,” added Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100. “These barriers offer better protection for our bus operators.”

Additionally, as part of the MTA’s cleaning and disinfecting efforts, to date, buses have gone through more than one million cleaning cycles. As part of a pilot, the MTA has completed installation of mask dispensers on 600 buses on 31 routes across all five boroughs. The dispensers are refilled daily.

With slightly less than one million customers a day, bus ridership is approximately 50 percent of normal pre-pandemic ridership levels.

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