Transit Safety Post COVID-19

Making Mass Transit More Safe Post-COVID-19


New York City’s economy and livelihood depends heavily on the Mass Transit System (Subways, Buses, Commuter Railroads). Mass Transit carries 6 million people every day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, transit ridership has been reduced to about 10 percent. The challenge is how the system deals with crowds, buses, trains, and stations when NY City reopens for business. The MTA has already started closing the system for 4 hours every night to clean and disinfect stations and railcars thoroughly. What steps can the authorities take to control crush loads into stations and trains? What role should the citizens and businesses play in this effort? On the other hand, as Columbia has been preparing for ramping up labs with an emphasis on social distancing within the campus, higher risks could arise in the process when the employees commute between home and campus, especially those who have to take MTA transit. 


This project aims to address travel safety and equity concerns of essential workers and provide a responsible, safe, and integrated transportation solution for the Columbia community and the general NYC population. To operate both the MTA system and Colubmia transportation system safely when NYC reopens, your team will have the following potential design solutions: 

  • A survey will be performed with the Columbia community to understand the travel patterns of essential workers. 
  • To improve safe travel using MTA or Columbia transit service, we will understand the potential changes in behaviors of transit riders. Also, how can we provide recommendations to suggest travelers to change their mobility pattern?
  • Any modifications to Station entrances, platforms etc and how effectively such modifications be accomplished in record time? How can we coordinate MTA and Columbia transportation service to ensure a seamless commute?

Project Goal

Your goal is to design a solution that will provide a safer, more reliable, and integrated transit system for the Columbia community and New Yorkers during episodes of elevated health risks, such as the waning periods of a pandemic or the perennial flu season.


Your efforts will be judged according to:

  • Quality of Data Collected and sources.
  • Criteria for Analysis
  • Recommendations for action:
    • By MTA : for Operations/ Maintenance; and B. For Capital Improvement
    • By Businesses and Riding Public
  • Recommendations for System-wide Implementation.

Faculty Leads

Mysore Nagaraja

Sharon Di