MTA Floating Plan That Would Make NYC Subway Riders Reserve Spots Using ‘Ticketmaster Technology’ To Keep People Spread Out

crowded NYC subway

Victor Rodriguez / Unsplash

There are have some truly outrageous ideas thrown around in recent weeks about the best ways to jumpstart the reopening of our country but this latest idea thrown out by the MTA has left me gobsmacked. To be fair, this isn’t a plan that’s being aggressively pursued yet but the idea seems to me so complicated that it wasn’t worth sparing the breath it took someone to speak this aloud.

The New York Daily News report says the MTA has discussed using a type of ‘Ticketmaster technology’ which would require all NYC subway passengers to reserve spots on the subway ahead of time in an effort to reduce congestion as life gets back to normal. In 2017, more than 1.72 BILLION people rode the NYC subways, and weekdays averaged 5.58 million riders every single day. But sure, they can look to Ticketmaster, one of the most-hated companies in the music business, as a model for how to get things going smoothly again.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Pat Foye said Thursday the agency is considering a form of “Ticketmaster technology” that would require riders to book a slot on subway trains to ensure there’s enough space to social distance underground.

“Everything’s on the table in terms of getting this right. A reservation system is being explored in other systems around the country and around the world,” Foye said during a video conference hosted by Crain’s New York Business. “That is not something we’ve made a decision on. We are not close to making a decision.”

Foye noted that the size of New York City’s subway would make reservation-type ticketing difficult to implement. He said the idea hinges on the rollout of the agency’s new tap-and-pay OMNY system, which is scheduled to be in place at every station by the end of the year.

How reservations would be enforced is also unclear. The MTA last year estimated more than 150,000 riders evaded the subway fare every day, a factor that could undermine a reservation requirement. (via NYDN)

How do you account for the homeless riders who get on the subway and don’t leave for 48 hours? How about those 150,000+ riders who jump the turnstile and ride? What about when a million or more people give the middle finger to restrictions and pack the Coney Island beaches on Memorial Day and Labor Day and then try to cram into the subway like sardines, what then?

What about genuine emergency situations, do people who are desperately in need of getting on the subway at that exact moment get screwed out of a spot if its rush hour? What will happen when people with unlimited passes begin to squat on time slots? Will there be an overnight secondary market for people selling their reservations?

And why would any of these reservations matter if the subway cars themselves would continue to be covered in germs? How do they choose *the right amount* of congestion in the subways when there haven’t been enough concrete studies showing the optimal size of groups and it’s still mostly experts throwing darts at the wall when setting those standards?

‘There are no bad ideas’. Suuuuuure. I think what we’ve learned from the past few months is there are in fact some truly awful ideas when it comes to public policy.

Subway service in the city has been cut by 30% in the past six weeks. The MTA knows that in order to reduce congestion on their subway cars they need to first expand their service. More cars = less congestion, right?

For more on this story, you can click here to visit the NY Daily News.