New Jersey Transit will lift the capacity limits on its trains, buses and light rails, as the COVID-19 pandemic slows down in the state and the New York City metro area, and more people begin commuting to in-person offices.
Starting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, NJ Transit will no longer be bound by 50 percent capacity limits, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday. That also applies to private-carrier buses, trains and light rail vehicles, and Access Link vehicles.
Staff and passengers will still have to wear face coverings, Murphy said. Although trains and buses will not automatically jump past the 50 percent cap in most cases, “we anticipate at least at rush hour that will be a reality,” the governor suggested.
“As we have undertaken our restart and recovery, and as more New Jerseyans begin getting back to their jobs, we are seeing increases in ridership which are beginning to approach 50 percent of the stated maximum capacity of these vehicles, and we want to ensure that people are able to get to their jobs and that the system continues operating as efficiently as possible,” the governor said at his COVID-19 press conference Monday afternoon at the Trenton War Memorial.
Masks need to be worn at any indoor stations, as well as outdoor stations where social distancing “is not practicable,” Murphy added.
The state’s pandemic has largely slowed down, only beginning to spread again after Murphy lifted restrictions in the second half of June on a variety of indoor businesses – such as malls, hair and nail salons, casinos and all non-essential retail – and allowed outdoor dining to resume for bars and restaurants.
As of Monday, the virus infected more than 175,000 New Jerseyans and claimed nearly 16,000 lives. The transmission rate has hovered under 1, meaning the virus is essentially no longer spreading.
Anything above 1 means that for every person who gets the virus, they spread it to at least one other person, and that bounced to 1.04 during the July Fourth weekend. Murphy reported on Monday that it was 0.91.
Nationwide surges have nonetheless prompted the governor to hit the brakes on lifting any further restrictions in the state, rescinding an order that would have allowed reduced capacity indoor dining, and enacting an order for masks to be worn both indoors and out.
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