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Mayor de Blasio is Not Particularly Alarmed at NYSE Ban on Public Transit Use

11:00 AM EDT on May 18, 2020

Stocks and bombs.

Four days after the New York Stock Exchange announced it would bar employees who arrive to its Lower Manhattan trading floor via public transportation, Mayor de Blasio still does not have a plan to protect Manhattan residents from an influx of cars from the exchange's decision, which will likely be followed by many other firms as the economy reopens yet trust in transit remains low.

"Any company that urged its employees to not use mass transit, well, some of that is not surprising to me," the mayor said on Monday — his first comments since the NYSE made its shocking announcement late Thursday.

The mayor admitted it would be a problem if "everyone starts turning to cars," but he declined to offer a plan to mitigate traffic created by employer transit bans. He added, without due concern, that "some people will do that [drive] on their own until they feel safer."

A reporter had asked de Blasio if his administration would require companies to provide group rides or shuttles to mitigate private car use, but the mayor merely said, "It is a legitimate thought." He declined to issue a mandate or a temporary ban on cars on lower Manhattan, which he could likely do under his emergency powers.

The NYSE trading floor will reopen on Tuesday, May 26, NYSE President Stacy Cunningham said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week. It does not appear that city officials were briefed on Cunningham's public transit ban before the article was published (City Hall has declined to comment).

City officials have been slow to plan for what experts believe will be a large increase in private car use for at least a year after businesses reopen. The MTA believes only 60 percent of its riders will come back. As Streetsblog reported last week, many workers will not need transit because they are working from home or have been fired — but that still leaves hundreds of thousands of workers who need to get to jobs, but will not take transit.

The mayor has appointed a "surface transportation" recovery panel, which is only beginning its work. The panel is dominated by car and driver interests, Streetsblog reported.

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