The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will shut the city’s subway system down every night beginning May 6 so workers can scrub the system clean for New Yorkers.
The system will be emptied of commuters for the cleaning and a new “Essential Connector” service will operate for the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 cleaning solutions, including UV, antimicrobials and electrostatic disinfectants.
Essential workers traveling to and from work during the overnight will be connected with for-hire-vehicles through the “Essential Connector” program at no cost to customers. New York City Transit and MTA bus service will continue to run under the MTA Essential Service Plan with enhancements along high ridership routes.
MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye (pictured top) said, “This is an unprecedented time and that calls for unprecedented action to protect the safety, security and health of our system for customers and employees. This closure will enable us to more aggressively and efficiently disinfect and clean our trains and buses than we have ever done before and do it every single day. We are pleased the City has agreed to deploy significant additional resources to the system at this critical time in our history.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, ridership on the New York City subway has fallen more than 90 percent. In recent weeks, the MTA has undertaken a line-by-line analysis of ridership data during the overnight period from 1-5:00 a.m. On average, approximately 11,000 customers currently use the subway during this time. Approximately 1,802 customers use the subway between the hours of 1-2:00 a.m., 1,386 customers between 2-3:00 a.m., 2,129 between the hours of 3-4:00 a.m., and 5,692 between 4-5:00 a.m.
The closure of the system during the overnight period of 1-5:00 a.m. will require significant and sustained NYPD resources. All customers will be required to leave the trains and the stations during this time. The City has agreed to bolster its presence systemwide and deploy additional NYPD resources as the safety and security of the system is paramount during this period.
Beginning next week, the MTA will launch the “Essential Connector” service between 1-5 a.m. at no cost to essential workers traveling to and from work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the five boroughs. The “Essential Connector” will ensure efficient travel for health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel, including to and from hospitals and other health care services, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other essential services.
“Essential Connector” customers will be limited to two trips per night on for-hire-vehicles and must show proof of essential travel with appropriate credentials. Customers who do not have a smart phone will also be able to request a ride through a dedicated number. Rides will also be available to customers requiring wheelchair accessible vehicles. Additional details on the “Essential Connector” will be released shortly.
Bus service will continue to run 24/7 under the MTA Essential Service Plan. Where there are large pockets of riders, additional bus service will be added as necessary. More details on the MTA Essential Service Plan are available here.
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will also begin disinfecting trains daily with service under the MTA Essential Service Plan.
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.