Quarantined in the outer boroughs

April 4, 2020

After the Mayor had non-officially closed New York City to non-essential workers in New York City, many media outlets had reported heavily within the borough of Manhattan, citing how the borough has shown that we as New Yorkers take this virus seriously.

However, there was a whole lot that those media outlets failed to mention. The outer boroughs still have to power the jobs that are needed to help keep not only their home boroughs afloat, but also the heart of this city, Manhattan.

This NYT article helps illustrate the amount of jobs that still require people to go to work. From Fedex employees, to Bank Tellers, from cooks and food delivery workers, to local Mom and Pop’s and pharmacies that are all upticking in closures city-wide due to the pandemic.

N/B (2) Shuttle train shown here at Pelham Parkway. Trains run at every 15 minutes during the Rush Hour and every 30 during off-peak. Typically at the time of the photo being taken, both 2 and 5 trains run at 5-7 minute frequencies and are met by a crowded southbound platform

Now repeatedly on sites like Twitter, or on local newspapers, there have been cries for the MTA to shut down the subway. There is a reason why this isn’t possible. These Essential workers who don’t have a car, need a way to get to and from their place of work, and fortunately and unfortunately. They are dependent on the MTA to provide service in order to commute.

Hence why the MTA advertises to “Not ride with them” “Stay home and stop the spread” It’s to dig it into commuters heads that if they have no reason to be riding, they shouldn’t be riding.

5 Train leaving East 180th Street, bound for Flatbush Avenue. The Essential Service Plan has all 5 Trains rerouted to the Broadway-7th Ave Line, To replace West Side Service for 2 train customers. Extra 4 trains run to make up lost 5 train service along Lexington.

With the MTA’s Essential Service Plan in full force, it has caused a number of changes throughout the city. Suspending all peak direction rush-hour express service, suspending the B,C,W,& Z services, the 42nd Street shuttle starting Friday 9:30 PM, and shifting service patterns on all lines to more than 10 minute headway. The ESP had been enacted due to the rise of MTA and NYCT workers self-quarantining or being tested positive for COVID-19.

The MTA has had 9 people die during the last week. 8 to the Novel Coronavirus, and one to Arson that had occurred at the Central Park N. – 110th Street stop last Friday. In Response last week, the MTA had created a portal for its employees to use and file for leave or get information. It was said that the portal had crashed earlier this week due to the amount of responses and questions that employers had.

2 Shuttle at East 180th Street heading back Northbound to Wakefield-241st Street. During the Rush hour, there are 4 trains running along the line, timing with 5 trains that arrive at E 180th every 15 minutes. People in the car shown are a mix of three Health Workers, construction workers, a UPS employee, and a mix of other professions.

The ESP now has a new impact on Bronx Riders who use the (2) and (5). Since last Friday, the (5) has run weekdays via the Broadway-7th Ave line to make up for the (2) Shuttle that runs exclusively in the Bronx. This leaves for two crash points for commuters. East-180th Street and 149th Street.

East 180th has typically been a choke point for the 2 / 5 during the Weekday rush, however, its now where commuters will have to crowd up on 5 Trains if they wish to continue farther south. 149th Street has been a centre point of discussion as well. With both the (4) being the only Lexington Ave Express Service, and the South Bronx region being home to the greater Bronx Healthcare infrastructure, it has lead to commutes such as these.

Shown here is a Homeless person with a cart taking up Three-Seat bench for sleeping. There is another person in between the carts, unknown if they’re both connected

Non-Social distancing and the Homeless on the subway have been major concerns of riders and the MTA alike. Currently, the Mayor’s office has declared that the NYPD would be on the subways to enforce social distancing on subways. This may result in the police forcing people in other cars to establish some sort of distance between passengers.

During the layover at 180th, three NYPD officers were on the Southbound 5 train enforcing this rule onto the AM Rush Hour crowds. As for the Homeless, the MTA has established that there is a fight to ensure that Homeless people taking shelter on the subway are to be escorted off the train by MTA Personnel, or the NYPD. However, one must note that the Homeless must be a.) Obstructing an entrance/exit to a Train car, and b.) Taking more than one seat/Occupying a large area of the subway car.

Though not visible, the printed sign on the front door window of this SBS shows that all boarding, unless if you require assistance boarding, have to enter through the rear door.

This new procedure, also as a result of the ESP, was formulated not as much as to protect bus riders, but to protect bus operators. By limiting contact with riders, the MTA is gambling that a majority of their Bus Workforce won’t get sick. To some extent this has worked on still providing constant service on some lines. However, on High Demand Routes such as the Bx12 SBS, this space is lost prime real estate to some riders.

This sign in front of a local dry cleaner advertises people to “CLEAN THEIR CLOTHES” and that “Dry Cleaning kills the Coronavirus”

Fun Fact: It Does not

As a matter of fact, the CDC recommends to just wash your clothes normally, just dry it for approximately 30-45 minutes, and be as generous as you can with the water temperature for the washer.

There is no real need to dry clean, unless you have that type of patients/laziness/spare cash.

This construction site, on Boston Road and Thwaites Place has still been developed despite the shutdown, just at a slower pace.

These are some of the jobs that most New Yorkers might not classify as essential workers. Construction is the bloodline of this city and developments are still seen through, despite the outbreak. Many workers however called out that by working, they both risk themselves and might be taking supplies from our front lines, the hospitals.

One of the three local Whole/Natural food stores in my neighborhood, these stores have developed small lines to get inside.

These small mom and pop stores have suffered the most; however, the demand for natural food has helped this local store still stay afloat. Only 6 people at a time however are able to enter the store. Similar restrictions have been in place for other local stores

The 24 hour McDonald’s has recently reduced its hours, Since the Eat in Closure, the local McDonald’s has seen a drop in people eating. Take out only service currently available at all restaurants.
The local pet store, no longer offering Sunday vet service. Now sees itself struggling to keep afloat. A few months ago, the now Whole Pets, closed after the Petland Discounts. Rebranded, this might be one of the next local stores to go.
These three storefronts, all advertising reduced hours The Santander Bank had only recently opened earlier this year

It’s oftentimes that stores might have to close earlier in order to maintain a profit. McDonald’s no longer 24 Hours, the local pet store slashing hours and reducing their offered services. Santander Bank closed their tellers, however the ATM’s were still operational.

Reduced hours might help in the overall extension of the rush hour, but to many waiting 20+ minutes for a train really isn’t a pretty option, thus having stores that close early or might open later.

This Starbucks, no lights, stacked chairs, closed at the midst of the virus

How will this neighborhood get its coffee?! No, I’m being quite honest, for Dunkin Donuts you have to queue for an order, whilst maintaining social distancing. Dunkin too has reduced its hours, originally 6-8, then sharped the 8 to a 6 PM Closing.

New Yorkers queuing for Dunkin’ coffee. The Dine In area has been closed with the recent decrease in operating hours
COVID-19 grafitted into a closed store’s iron gating.

This bit of graffiti displays the impact the novel Coronavirus is having with local stores. Forcing closure for long periods of time, or in the rare case, indefinitely.

And finally, something that at least every New Yorker has seen,

A local pigeon, who I named Dill, seen here by the turnstile.

He did make it at the end. After I had entered the system, the pigeon had gone through one of the turnstile gaps and waddled up to platform level. Like true New York fashion, the pigeon had waited on the platform for a good minute, after not seeing the train, the pigeon proceeded to fly down the line. It’s safe to say that I’m thankful it didn’t waste $2.75 on a subway ride.

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