Commuters who have been using back-door boarding on buses will now have to enter in the front and pay the fare.

Front-door boarding and subsequently, the collection of fares, was suspended during the pandemic to protect bus operators and riders from coming in close contact.

But the MTA, battered by financial losses, has figured out a safe way to do so. This comes as free rides for essential workers during overnight subway shutdowns came to an end on Sunday.

“The MTA financial situation is really dire, and so it’s time for us to start collecting fares again,” Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the NYC Transit Authority, told NY1 in an exclusive interview.

Barriers between riders and bus operators now exist, which will protect operators and give riders more space at the front of the bus.

The MTA is also planning for major service cuts should it not get financial support from the federal government. This would include chopping service by 40 percent, in addition to fare hikes, increased tolls and employee layoffs.

“It’s not a place I ever thought I would be in,” said Feinberg, noting that a year ago the MTA had record on-time performance, and was working on expanding service and getting some capital construction projects underway.

“Here we are just months later trying to recover from this pandemic in desperate need of financial assistance from Washington, and looking at, frankly, draconian service cuts,” Feinberg said.

“We just cannot get to that place. At the end of the day if we have to do draconian service cuts in order to just save ourselves from bankruptcy, what does that mean to New Yorkers? It means people can’t get to work, it means the economy in New York suffers. And I hope that Washington’s paying attention to that. No matter what your politics, you can’t root for New York to struggle like that,” she continued.

Feinberg also noted that Brooklyn’s Jay Street Busway is now being implemented.  

Feinberg joined “Mornings On 1” Monday via Skype.