Starting Wednesday, for the first time in New York City history, the subway system is shutting down overnight for daily cleanings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When will trains be shut down? What if you need to commute overnight? How long will the shutdown last? Here is what you need to know about the unprecedented move.
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When Will Subway Service Be Shut Down?
Subway service and stations is shutting down 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day.
The MTA calculates train ridership is down 90 percent during those hours, but the early morning shutdowns will still affect approximately 11,000 straphangers.
Is Anything Else Being Shut Down?
No. Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains will also undergo cleaning, but they will not be shut down overnight.
What Are the Service Alternatives?
To supplement the loss of overnight train rides, the MTA is beefing up bus service, which will see more than 1,100 extra trips, and put over 300 extra buses on the road.
61 bus routes, including local and express routes, are expected to get a service boost, including key lines that serve hospitals. That will include lines that serve:
- NYU Langone Bellevue in Manhattan
- NewYork-Presbyterian in Manhattan
- St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx
- Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn
- Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens
The MTA is also letting people sign up for single-trip door-to-door taxi and for-hire car service, like Uber, for commuters whose bus trips would be longer than an hour and 20 minutes, or require three or more transfers.
Riders can get information and fill out a travel questionnaire at mta.info/overnight. People wanting to get the free ride, which will bring workers from their home to their job, need to register with the MTA.
The MTA decided to scale back the offering of two free door-to-door taxi and for-hire car trips for essential workers because the transit agency believes people will not both start and end work shifts between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
When Will Overnight Subway Service Return to Normal?
That may not be until the city as a whole starts returning to normal. There is no timetable for how long the partial subway shutdown will last, but it could be as long as six to 12 months, which is the expected timeframe for scientists to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Why Are Overnight Trains Being Shut Down?
The trains are shutting 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.
The shutdown comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed the MTA to create a plan to clean trains every 24 hours, instead of every 72 hours, as it currently does.
MTA leaders said the shutdown was necessary to clean and disinfect every subway car in their fleet each day, something that could not be accomplished with the system running around the clock and becoming de-facto shelters for homeless people, who will be removed from the system and placed into services with the help of social workers and the NYPD.
MTA officials stressed complications are expected but the agency will adapt as needed. It’s not clear if that means the agency will ever shift the hours of the shutdown or its approach.
FURTHER CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE