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Pandemic Public Transit Fears Unfounded

A knee-jerk history of coronavirus in New York City is being revised.
June 16, 2020, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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New York Subway Coronvairus
Kevin Benckendorf

Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and co-author of Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, joins with Seth Solomonow, the other co-author of Streetfight, to write an article for The Atlantic that reclaims the high ground of epidemiological evidence in the spread of coronavirus in New York City.

To sum: there was never as much evidence about the spread of the novel coronavirus on public transit in New York as some reports and media narratives claimed.

The headline of a recent report by an MIT economics professor read like the title of a 1950s horror film: “The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City.” The report concluded that New York’s subway system was “a major disseminator—if not the principal transmission vehicle” in the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Numerous articles followed and the narrative gained steam. "Some elected officials urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to shut down New York’s transit system," according to the article.

Underlying all that fear, however, "is an assumption of danger that, so far, research has not borne out." For instance, "[a] recent study in Paris found that none of 150 identified coronavirus infection clusters between early May and early June originated on the city’s transit systems. A similar study in Austria found that not one of 355 case clusters in April and May was traceable to riding transit."

For more insight into understanding the risk of contagion while riding public transit, see a recent Planetizen article written by Todd Litman.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, June 15, 2020 in The Atlantic
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