As the saying goes, there are only three things in life you can count on: death, taxes, and the NYC subway system. Well, from now on, you can only rely on death and taxes.
The NYC subway has only shut down twice in the past decade, both times as a result of hurricanes, but in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, it’s going to close overnight.
As of Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the subway system will shut down from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM every night for the purpose of disinfecting the trains, equipment, and stations.
Patrick J. Foye, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), said in a statement, “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.”
Although ridership is down by 90 percent, and thousands of sick MTA workers have made keeping the level of service difficult, the subway needs to be sanitized daily to protect those who rely on the service.
The shutdown is also intended to help the transit agency explore various disinfecting techniques, like ultraviolet lights and antimicrobial agents, which could remain in use after the pandemic is over.
The overnight shutdown affects approximately 11,000 riders, but next week the transit agency will introduce a program that offers riders who depend on the subway to get to work two free trips on for-hire vehicles each night, as well as free rides on buses and dollar vans. To take advantage of these alternative modes of transportation, passengers must prove that their travel is essential. A hotline to request rides will be made available for essential workers.