Reopen News: Bus fares to resume in August as MTA unveils barriers to keep drivers safe

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA has unveiled new safety measures to keep workers and riders safe, including bus barriers and PPE vending machines.

The agency will install two types of barriers on buses to allow passengers to board at the front of the vehicle again.

Officials say vinyl curtains will be installed in more than 1,000 express buses starting this week, while 4,800 other buses will get sliding barriers in the fall. Both will fully protect bus operators when passengers board.

"The new barriers are part of our commitment to continuously protect bus operators when performing their heroic work of keeping this city moving," interim President of MTA New York City Transit Sarah Feinberg said. "We continue to disinfect buses around the clock, require all customers and employees to wear masks, and these new short-term solution barriers ensure we are doing everything possible to protect employees and riders."

The installation of new barriers across the fleet is expected to be completed by the fall, and the MTA will resume front door boarding on all buses in August.

Rear entry on the buses will end, and fare collection will resume.

The MTA says it's doing its best to balance driver safety with its financial needs.

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Another safety measure that was introduced Tuesday was the decision to deploy a dozen vending machines at 10 subway stations allowing customers to buy COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE).

The new machines, part of a pilot program, will offer reusable face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes.

"The national increase in COVID-19 cases shows how important it is for us to maintain vigilance on use of masks and other PPE," Feinberg said. "We want to make it as easy as possible for customers who may not have masks to get them so they can ride the subway. Wearing a mask is the single most important thing our customers can do to protect themselves and those around them, and more than that, it's absolutely required to ride the system."

The pilot program consists of 12 machines at these 10 locations:
--14th St-Union Square
--34th St-Herald Square (two machines)
--34th St-Penn Station
--34th St-Penn Station
--42nd St-Port Authority Bus Terminal
--42nd St-Times Square (two machines)
--59th St-Columbus Circle
--74th St-Roosevelt Av
--Atlantic Av-Barclays Cente
--Lexington Av em

Eight machines are being installed and stocked by Canteen, a division of the Compass Group, a food services company. These machines were built by Vengo, a manufacturer of retail vending machines.

Four machines are branded as "Simply" and are being installed and stocked by vending machine company Swyft.

The MTA is also distributing hand sanitizer at every station, as well as 2 million single-use surgical masks to customers at station booths thanks to donations from the State of New York and City of New York.

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