To What Extent Has Commuting Been Affected by COVID -19?

To What Extent Has Commuting Been Affected by COVID -19?

Samantha Palombo and Alexa Martinez

An outbreak in Wuhan, China led to this world pandemic, declared on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization (WHO). The fear and sadness correlated with this deadly virus. Extreme economic crashes affect over 12 million people unemployed in the United States. 2020 took an appalling turn. The coronavirus has had an impact on every individual throughout the world, changing our lives completely. New York has taken a toll with the CoronaVirus, from being one of the highest states with the most cases towards the beginning of the outbreak. New York City, known as “the city that never sleeps,” finally experienced a form of silence. However, it has finally opened up gradually and needs clean and safe forms of transportation for students and workers. MTA- being the most used form of transportation in New York City- has undergone difficulties through these arduous times to make it more efficient. We can see this effect on students from Baruch College Campus High School and workers for the MTA.


Tens of thousands of Americans have taken intense precautions to prevent themselves and their loved ones from contracting this severe acute respiratory disease. As people finally return to school and work after the COVID – 19 lockdowns, people’s commutes, specifically in NYC, have seen extreme changes. Even before the pandemic, the need for reliable and clean transportation was widely desired. CNBC’s article titled, “23% of workers have quit a job because of this–and it’s not salary or time off,” states that 23% of workers have turned down or quit a job only due to a bad commute. This depicts how significant a commute can be in someone’s life. Now, because of the pandemic, commutes are evermore prominent in people’s lives. However, people struggle with whether public transportation will keep them safe from COVID – 19. The article, “COVID-19 Impact on the MTA and Public Transportation Testimony,” written by Partnership for New York reads, “Earlier this month, the Partnership conducted a survey of private-sector employers to determine when workers are likely to return to the office and what factors will influence the timing of return. The results show substantial uncertainty about when to expect Manhattan’s one million office workers to return. This is not because they like working remotely. The top three reasons for not returning to the office were concerns about the status of the pandemic and availability of a vaccine, the safety of mass transit, and safe reopening of schools and child care facilities.” Safety is the priority for all, and while people need to get back to work, fears around public transportation such as Busses and Subways are hugely noted. These worries have significantly impacted the MTA. The same article again states, “The pandemic cost the MTA 90% of its ridership and 40% of its revenues, but the subway, bus and commuter rail systems today are cleaner, safer and more comfortable than ever. Yet many members of the public remain reluctant to return, primarily due to lack of trust in the self-discipline of their fellow passengers ─ wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home when sick. There is also a growing issue of crime and aggression throughout the city, including in and around transit stations, subways, buses, and trains.” Even with the extra precautions that the MTA has taken, people still are unsure if returning to work and riding these modes of transportation is safe. The world has been changed because of the Pandemic, and the issues around it keep growing. We need to keep ourselves and others safe by wearing our masks, maintaining good hand hygiene, and staying home if experiencing symptoms, or else our world will be changed forever. 


Do you fall into the percent that still worries about the cleanliness and safety of public transportation? The MTA is on its brink of bankruptcy because of a decrease in riders. For Baruch students specifically, the Coronavirus has changed their preferred forms of transportation tremendously. A survey conducted about these changes on Baruch students showed that before the coronavirus, roughly 78% of students took the subway. Now, after COVID -19 students who prefer to ride the subway have shifted to 53.3%. Furthermore, 24.7% of students who have stopped taking the subway now no longer take any form of public transportation due to fears of catching this respiratory disease. This can impact their commute, making it longer or more difficult. Students feel a sense of uncertainty about whether to ride these forms of transportation, as being in an enclosed area, like the subway, puts one at a higher risk of catching this disease. Students of Baruch feel very stressed from the inconvenience in these situations, and they all want to take the safest form of transportation to stay healthy during this time of crisis. 


While some might believe that our world has transformed and forever changed, we have to learn to adapt and continue our everyday commute with these changes. By maintaining good hygiene, wearing our masks, and staying isolated if you begin to experience symptoms, we can get back to how our comfortable commutes were before. Us New Yorkers have to do our part in this. We have to choose to be aware of our surroundings and persevere through strenuous times. We must come together if we want to see change! 



Hess, Abigail J. “23% Of Workers Have Quit a Job Because of This-and It’s Not Salary or Time Off.” CNBC, CNBC, 12 Dec. 2018,
“COVID-19 Impact on the MTA and Public Transportation Testimony.” Partnership for New York City, 25 Aug. 2020,