Port Authority of New York and New Jerseyofficials are considering reducing PATH rail service and finding ways to better run the metro area’s airports after the coronavirusdecimated rail ridership and air travel this month.
Daily passenger volume at the metro area airports run by the authority dropped by 85%, and weekday PATH rail ridership dropped 90%, when compared to March 2019 levels, said Rick Cotton, executive director on Thursday.
Vehicular traffic at the six bridges and tunnels is down by 50%, but the amount of daily truck traffic is only down 20%, which is seen as an effort to improve the supply chain to stores, Cotton said.
As other transit rail systems, including New York city subways, PATCOand NJ Transit have reduced schedules, Cotton said a similar change could happen at PATH.
“We are examining plans for modified weekday service. It would focus on a schedule that would allow passengers to maintain safe social distancing and provide service for essential workers,” he said.
Morning commute on PATH train from Jersey City to NYC. pic.twitter.com/dVeiLRR4V4
— QuixCap (@QuixxxCap)
Officials could make a decision soon, Cotton said.
As workers follow government orders to work from home and limit unnecessary travel to reduce the spread of coronavirus, fewer employees are commutingexcept for those deemed to be essential workers. Even the Port Authority has 3,000 of its roughly 7,000 employees working remotely.
On Thursday, known cases of the coronavirusin New Jersey increased to at least 6,876 with 81 deaths as officials announced another 2,492 new positive test results Thursday, the largest single-day increase since the outbreak.
Authority officials don’t need to put any limits at the airports because airlines have already reduced the number of scheduled flights due to declining passenger demand for air travel, Cotton said.
“It’s not about limiting flights, it’s about using airport resources efficiently,” he said. “We are trying to understand the most beneficial operation of the airports.”
That might route passengers and flight operations to common terminals instead of using multiple concourses, he said.
“We’re talking with the airlines,” he said.
If there is a positive sign of future recovery, it could be foreshadowed by port traffic, which is down 30% compared to March 2019. That is because 19 cargo ship arrivals from China were canceled, due to the coronavirus shutdown in that nation, Cotton said. So far, only five April arrivals from China are canceled, as factories in China reopen, he said.
Shipments from South and Central America remained “intact” he said.
“It seems the port will lead the recovery, post coronavirus crisis,” Cotton said.
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