Did you hear honking at 3 p.m. on Thursday? It was a coordinated way of honouring transit workers.

REUTERS/Carlo AllegriAn MTA bus driver wears a mask following the outbreak of the coronavirus, in Manhattan, March 20, 2020.
  • Transit agencies around New York and New Jersey blasted their horns at 3 p.m. Thursday as a way of showing appreciation for essential workers around the nation.
  • The mass-transit industry is experiencing economic hardship as ridership drops amid the coronavirus pandemic. Amtrak saw ridership plummet 90%.
  • At least 59 MTA workers have reportedly died from COVID-19 as of April 13.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you live in New York City, you’re probably used to the 7 p.m. wave of sound emanating from rooftops, windows, and streets, as New Yorkers come together at a distance to celebrate and thank health care workers fighting on the front lines against the coronavirus.

But Thursday at 3 p.m., you might have heard a different burst of noise: honking.

Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NJ TRANSIT, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and other bus and ferry operators around the region orchestrated a tribute to essential workers, particularly transit workers, who ensure first responders, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and other essential workers have the means to travel.

These transit agencies honoured each other and workers around the nation by giving two, one-second horn blasts Thursday at 3 p.m. as a part of #SoundTheHorn Campaign.

“Our region’s frontline transit employees deserve all the thanks and recognition we can give them right now,” NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett said when announcing the plan. “This effort is a small yet powerful way for us to show our appreciation for the brave, selfless transit workers who continue to show up every day, under some of the most challenging conditions any of us have ever seen.”

Mass transit systems have been hit hard financially as people stay indoors. Amtrak has seen a 90% drop in ridership, and is set to receive $US1 billion from the government’s coronavirus stimulus package.

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But the losses are more than just economic. At least 59 MTA workers died from COVID-19 as of Monday, according to a report by Politico.

Nearly 4,400 trains, buses, and ferries were in service Thursday afternoon to participate in the horn honking, according to the media release.

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