The global pandemic has led to unimaginable loss to the MTA family, with 136 employees dying of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. To honor and pay tribute to those who have been lost too soon, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority today launched an engaging visual memorial to those employees, heroes who dedicated their lives to moving New Yorkers through the city and region.
Built around photographs shared by family members, the memorial was designed by MTA Arts & Design at the request of Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of MTA New York City Transit. It is entitled “TRAVELS FAR” after a poem by Tracy K. Smith, former U.S. Poet Laureate, that was commissioned for this project and will appear in multiple languages at stations. The online version is accompanied by an original score of the same name by composer Christopher Thompson, which was also commissioned for the memorial. This special tribute involved many people in various disciplines including New York City Transit liaisons to the family, and in-house talent from marketing, web and digital content teams.
The memorial will appear as an eight-minute video running on 138 three-panel digital screens at 107 subway stations today, Monday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Feb. 7. The video will play twice consecutively three times per day, at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and is available to view on a website featuring the memorial and portraits.
“COVID-19 has been a devastating scourge on our entire country and, tragically, that includes the MTA’s workforce,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “We quickly made sure that those families who lost an MTA worker to COVID were taken care of financially, but the launch of today’s memorial is aimed at personalizing the legacies of those who died during the pandemic. It is a moving tribute to the members of our heroic workforce who lost their lives and we will continue to make sure those who perished are not forgotten.”
“The pandemic has marked an unimaginably challenging and painful time at New York City Transit,” Feinberg said. “Today marks the next step in our ongoing efforts to honor the colleagues, friends and family members who were taken from us too soon. These men and women were the heroes of the transit system – conductors, bus and train operators, cleaners – but they were also mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. We think of them daily and we continue to mourn them with their friends and families.”
“TRAVELS FAR, with its poignant title and thoughtful words by Tracy K. Smith, helps us remember these courageous members of the MTA family in a way that pays tribute and honors them and their workplace contributions,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts and Design. “Surrounded by a spectrum of colors, the portraits in black and white allow us a glimpse into unique personalities known to their families and colleagues. This memorial shows that art can be a powerful messenger, conveying loss and honoring the memory of our colleagues.”
“Transport Workers Union Local 100 will never forget our union brothers and sisters who perished in service to the city,” said Tony Utano, President, Transport Workers Union Local 100. “It’s our fervent hope that with this memorial the riding public also keeps them in their hearts and minds. Stop for a moment during your daily travels and reflect on these departed heroes, the lives lost, and the heartbreak being carried by their families and co-workers. May they rest in peace.”