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MTA turns the music back on as city tries to get workers back

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has relaunched its Music Under New York program as it works to restore ridership to pre-pandemic levels.

With new surveys showing most city workers are more worried about their personal safety that COVID infection, the return of the underground artists is viewed as another measure to get the nation’s largest transit system back to normal.’

Last month, the city directed 250 extra police officers to patrol the subways in an effort to allay fears following a spike in crime.

Now, more than 14 months after the pandemic shut them down, a dozen performers affiliated with the MTA’s Music Under New York program have resumed performances.

A dozen official performers have returned to the subway system.

Music Under New York dates back to 1985. Prior to COVID, MTA Music featured 350 musical acts and put on roughly 12,000 performances annually.  

“I am so thrilled we’ve finally reached this moment,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “The last year has been so challenging for all of our artists and to see this special program return underground is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of so many New Yorkers.  Public art and music are such a vital part of this city’s cultural landscape and going 14 months without these performances has left a void in the city’s artistic life. Today, that void ends and we begin to return to the beauty and joy that has always defined this model public arts program.”   

The performers come from across the musical spectrum. Classical and pop violinist Susan Keser played Union Square, while the New Orleans blues keyboardist Gabriel Aldort performed at Herald Square. Eganam Segbefia, meanwhile, regaled audiences with his talents on the trumpet at 42 St-Port Authority. Shogo Jubo, a classical guitarist, impressed the audience gathered at Grand Central.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority carried 5.5 million people on its subways every weekday before the Covid-19 outbreak. According to reports, it is currently at 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

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