The hottest ticket in town one day could be a subway ride.

The MTA chief said Thursday he was considering a reservation system for mass transit, as agency officials try to figure out ways to keep riders safe as commuters return to subways and buses, once coronavirus restrictions are lifted in the city.

MTA officials concede it's difficult, if not impossible, for riders to stay six feet apart on train cars and buses, leading them to consider this unorthodox idea to meter access.

MTA Chairman Pat Foye discussed the idea during a virtual panel hosted by Crain's New York, saying that it would employ technology used in the MTA's new tap-and-go fare payment system, known as OMNY, and the household name for scoring tickets to concerts.

It's an idea, he said, that's being considered among transit officials around the country and the world.

"Obviously, a reservation system would have all sorts of complications here in New York, given 472 stations and, pre-pandemic, millions of passengers, but I think that a combination of OMNY and Ticketmaster technology may work and in that scenario, customers, at least for some period of time, would be asked to make a reservation," Foye said. "That is not something we've made a decision on. We're not close to making a decision."

The MTA chairman also said that commuters may need to wait on line if they want to travel on the subway, using cameras to measure crowds in stations.

"We'll be exploring things like metering the number of people that enter a subway station that go down to the mezzanine, that go down to the platform and get on a subway car," Foye said. "All in the interest of protecting and advancing public safety."

The MTA chairman said the agency will hire outside consultants to plan for the return of millions of transit riders.



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