I'm the Clever Commute guy. I have a full-time job in technology for a financial services firm. I started what became Clever back in 2006...during the Blackberry days. A lot has changed since then, but one thing has stayed the same: technology can address some of the problems with the commute.
Once I was fully-vaccinated, I started the process of returning to the office.
NJ Transit - I generally commute in via Hoboken and out via NY Penn Station.
Morning: the train was lightly-populated...and not all cars were open. The level of cleanliness does not appear any better or worse than pre-Covid.
There were opportunities for physical distancing two ways:
o no one sat in the same row as me
o we also tried to keep a free row between passengers
In my experience, everyone wears a mask. No one eats or drinks.
Since Newark Broad Street is a transfer point, some folks get out there to catch a train to NY Penn.
Detraining at Hoboken terminal is simple and safe.
Evening: A bit more crowded...but still safe and clean. I had my space and I did not see any masklessness.
PATH - The next leg of the trip takes me to World Trade Center. Again: sparse...plenty of open seats...mask-wearing. See comment above regarding cleanliness.
Subway - The lines I ride (2/3 4/5) are safe and clean. The crowds certainly can vary...but I did not experience anything worrisome.
Financial District - It's quiet...but not a ghost town. My favorite old-school deli is open...and so is Le Pan Quotidien. There are people on the streets. The bars and restaurants have created outdoor seats and bubbles. Stone Street is surprisingly vibrant.
My Office - It's quiet, too. But they are doing all the right things: Temperature scan...app-based health-check questionnaire...limiting capacity on elevators...goodie bag with thermometer/masks/sanitizer. I feel very safe there and it's nice to be out of the house...with true boundaries to the start and end of the day,
A note on Penn Station - As I previously blogged, the situation there is largely in the eye of the beholder. The LIRR section is under a lot of construction/renovation. The NJT and Amtrak areas do indeed have some closures...some homeless. But I also think that since there are fewer people there in general, we can actually see that which has always been there. I also imagine that the warming weather means that fewer people will be seeking shelter there.
Overall - The recovery will take a while...but the data shows that we have bounced off the bottom and that commuters are returning. Even in non-pandemic times, the commuter traffic ebbs in the warmer weather. Do you remember the traditional first-commute-after-Labor-day crowd? 2021 won't be as high as it was in 2019...but it will be worlds ahead of 2020.
Will you be a part of it?