For the first time in New York City history, the subway system will shut down overnight so crews can better clean and disinfect trains and stations in order to further prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and protect essential workers.
What You Need to Know
- Subway stations will be closed from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day
- The new measures will begin May 6
- Bus service will not be affected
- The partial shutdown will likely last through the duration of the pandemic
- LIRR and Metro-North trains will not be shut down overnight
Responding to homeless people who are using subway cars as shelters, during his daily coronavirus press briefing in Albany on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made mass-transit history to shut down the only subway system that runs 24 hours a day.
Subway service will be suspended daily from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Bus service will not be affected.
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"It is a massive undertaking that we have never done before," Cuomo told reporters. “Let’s clean, disinfect those buses and trains every 24 hours. Why? Because that’s the best way we protect the health of our essential workers. Which makes sense if you want the essential workers to continue to come to work.”
Although ridership has been down massively since the coronavirus outbreak began, many essential workers have been relying on the subways to get to and from work, particularly those who work overnight shifts.
Cuomo said starting on May 6, when the closures go into effect, special arrangements will be made for those deemed essential workers who need to commute in the early morning hours. Those employees are expected to get up to two free rides from buses or cabs when the subway is closed.
“The essential connector program, they’ll have buses, dollar vans, and if necessary will provide for-hire vehicles to transport a person,” the governor said. “The Uber, the Lyft, the Via vehicles at no cost to the essential worker at those hours to provide transport.”
There is no timetable for how long the partial subway shutdown will last, but it could be 6 to 12 months, which is the expected timeframe for scientists to develop a vaccine.
Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains will also undergo cleaning, but will not be shut down overnight.
The MTA calculates subway ridership is down 90 percent from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., but the early morning shutdowns will still affect approximately 11,000 straphangers.
Cuomo was joined at his daily press briefing virtually by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who endorsed the closures. It was the first time the two leaders appeared together at a press conference since March 2, the day after New York announced its first confirmed case of coronavirus.
It came one day after Cuomo told the MTA to figure out a plan to clean trains every 24 hours, instead of every 72 hours, as it currently does.
“They came up with a plan. They can disinfect all trains and buses every night. It can best be done by stopping train service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every night during the pandemic,” the governor said.
The reduction in subway service comes as New York City’s confirmed coronavirus-related death count nears 18,000, although the fatality mark the city has reported dropped under 400 for the fifth straight day.
According to New York City officials, citywide as of 6 p.m. Wednesday there were:
- 162,212 confirmed cases of COVID-19
- An estimated 41,648 hospitalizations
- 17,866 deaths (12,571 confirmed and 5,295 probable)
From 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the city:
- Confirmed cases increased by 2,347
- Estimated hospitalizations increased by 332
- Deaths increased by 277 (284 confirmed and 7 fewer probable fatalities)
The borough-by-borough breakdown of confirmed cases, with some fluctuation in the numbers:
- Queens: 50,304 confirmed cases
- Brooklyn: 42,996
- The Bronx: 36,969
- Manhattan: 20,121
- Staten Island: 11,752
New York state reported, as of midnight Wednesday:
- 304,372 confirmed coronavirus cases
- A total of 18,321 deaths (the state is not currently including probable coronavirus fatalities in its count).
From midnight Tuesday to midnight Wednesday in New York state:
- Confirmed cases increased by 4,681
- Deaths increased by 306
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