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As coronavirus cases climb in New York, city wants to ‘reduce overcrowding’ on transit

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Plus, a blind cat named Big Al was rescued from a Bronx subway tunnel—and more intel in today’s New York Minute news roundup

A man walks by signs urging New Yorkers to stay healthy as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the state.
Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Good morning, and welcome to New York Minute, a roundup of the New York City news you need to know about today. Send stories you think should be included to

How COVID-19 may impact your commute (among other things)

As the number of cases of COVID-19 climbs in New York state—as of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s last briefing on Sunday more than 100 people had tested positive for the new coronavirus, 16 of whom are located located in New York City—city officials have released new guidelines aimed at stopping the disease’s spread. Some of these are common-sense measures that have been more broadly recommended—wash your hands constantly, don’t touch your face with unwashed hands, stay home if you don’t feel well—while others are specific to New Yorkers’ way of living, namely our commutes.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio advised New Yorkers to consider telecommuting if at all possible, head to and from work at off hours, and take steps to reduce overcrowding. “Plan to have some extra travel time in your commute,” he tweeted. “If the train that pulls up is too packed, move to a different car or wait to take the next one.”

This, of course, is not always easy given how packed subways can be during rush hour—nor is it necessarily the best way to ensure that there isn’t crowding on trains or, crucially, on platforms, as Curbed contributor Aaron Gordon explained in a lengthy Twitter thread. “The more people on the platform, the longer the dwell times,” he wrote. “The longer the dwell times, the fewer trains can run during peak periods. The fewer trains, the more crowding. See the problem?”

And in other news…

  • In his first extensive interview after departing New York City Transit, Andy “Train Daddy” Byford described an “intolerable” working relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who allegedly “excluded and marginalized” him from major subway decision-making.
  • More MTA news: “Subway planners have since 2018 added more minutes to scheduled run times on some subway lines — changes that made it easier for trains to complete trips on time and thus improve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s data about the subway’s on-time performance,” according to an analysis of MTA data by the New York Daily News.
  • The MTA is looking into high-speed bus service from Tottenville, on the southern end of Staten Island, to Newark Airport.
  • An Upper West Side woman is taking some of the credit for halting construction at 200 Amsterdam Avenue; she also told the Post that she “love[s] urban life but there’s a limit,” which, sure.
  • How are coronavirus fears affecting NYC’s open houses?
  • “How do you get a 800-pound grand piano up a narrow staircase in a Harlem townhouse?” The Times investigates.
  • A woman has sued a New Jersey heliport, claiming she was blown off of her bicycle on the Hudson River Greenway by a roving ‘copter.
  • And finally, a feel-good story for this weird Monday: MTA workers helped save “Big Al,” a partially blind cat who was found on the tracks in a Bronx subway tunnel. Awww.