Subway Begins Overnight Shuttering for Cleaning Next Week

FILE PHOTO: An MTA transit worker cleans a nearly empty Times Square – 42nd street subway station following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City
An MTA transit worker cleans a nearly empty Times Squares subway station during the coronavirus crisis.
Reuters/ Jeenah Moon

The MTA will stop all subway service during overnight hours to disinfect subway cars during the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

Cuomo explained that the entire subway system will halt service from 1 to 5 a.m. every overnight, starting next week, to allow crews to fully clean train cars — specifically touchable surfaces. Subway service will be replaced during these hours by a network of buses and ride-sharing vehicles that will offer free rides to essential workers.

The governor is optimistic the overnight shutdowns will not have a negative impact on the city, as subway ridership is down 90 percent since the COVID-19 crisis began. The entire subway system was already operating on an altered schedule designed to keep essential workers moving.

The plan, developed by the MTA and supported by Cuomo, has the support of elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The overnight shutdowns will take effect Wednesday, May 6.

Hours after the governor’s announcement, out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman said he would move to ensure that round-the-clock subway service resumes once the crisis has passed.

“If the public health experts believe we should temporarily close the subway overnight, I respect their decision,” Hoylman said, in a written statement. “But once this crisis is over, the MTA must immediately restore the 24/7 service New Yorkers have relied on for decades. In the coming days, I plan to introduce legislation that will require the MTA to resume 24/7 service on the New York City subway after a declared end to the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot let this virus leave behind a city that is less vibrant, less connected or less equitable than it was before.”

Trains on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road systems will also be disinfected every night, but that will not impact service.

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