MTA announced earlier today that it will close the subway system for deep-cleaning every night between 1-5 am starting on May 6th.
“During this overnight period, the MTA will intensify disinfecting operations, cleaning its fleet of thousands of cars and buses every night, and further testing new and innovative cleaning solutions, including UV, antimicrobials and electrostatic disinfectants,” the agency said in its announcement. Essential workers who need to travel will be connected with for-hire-vehicles through the “Essential Connector” program at no cost to customers.
All customers will be required to leave the trains and the stations during this time, and the city and the state have agreed to deploy additional police officers to assist. This move follows a couple of days of public back and forth about the cleanliness of trains and those without homes living in the subway system, and who’s responsible for fixing the situation, between the Mayor and the MTA.
“You want to honor the essential workers, thank you, thank you, we’ll fly airplanes. We’ll have public demonstrations of gratitude. Yeah, even better than that is what you do and how you act. Let’s make sure that we’re doing everything we can. Let’s clean, disinfect those buses and trains every 24 hours,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference earlier today. “Why? Because that’s the way we best protect the health of our essential workers which makes sense if you want the essential workers to continue to come to work. It makes sense if you don’t want the infection rate to go up in your society. It makes sense if you don’t want the essential workers to get sick and again, it is our obligation as human beings to reciprocate and make sure we’re doing everything we can.”
“We need to do everything we can to ensure our system is a clean, disinfected and as safe as possible – and we have to get it right. Closing our system for a limited time overnight will enable us to clean and disinfect every car, every night,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of New York City Transit.
Since the Pandemic started, subway ridership has fallen more than 90%, and in the last few weeks, MTA says, just 11,000 customers ride the subways between 1-5 am. Beginning on May 6, the “Essential Connector” service will allow health care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel, travel” to and from hospitals and other health care services, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other essential services” for free. Customers will have to show proof of essential travel with appropriate credentials and will be limited to two rides a night. More information is coming shortly, MTA says.
Buses will continue to run 24/7, and where there are large pockets of riders, additional bus service will be added as necessary. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will also begin disinfecting trains daily with service under the MTA Essential Service Plan.
When will the overnight service resume? “The MTA will resume overnight service between the period of 1-5 a.m. when customer demand returns, and innovative and efficient disinfecting techniques have been successfully deployed systemwide,” the agency said.