The Metropolitan Transit Authority is making a historic change to the nation’s largest subway system in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus. During his daily media briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state, New York City, and the MTA are partnering to clean trains, buses every 24 hours to keep essential workers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a part of the new Essential Connector Program, the subway system will shut down during its slowest hours between 1 am and 5 am for cleaning during the pandemic.
The train closure will also help deal with the homeless program and provide additional services for those sleeping on trains. The NYPD will help assist in keeping customers safe during the Overnight closure. The MTA will provide shuttle and car service at no cost for essential workers who need to travel during the closure hours.
Metro North and the Long Island Railroad trains will be cleaned as a part of the Essential Connector Program. Previously, trains were cleaned every 72 hours during the normal 24/7 schedule.
“We know the virus can live for hours or even days on a surface.” Gov. Cuomo said about the history making move. “Let’s make sure we’re doing everything we can. Let’s clean, disinfect those trucks, buses and trains every 24 hours. Why? Because that’s the way we best protect the health of our essential workers.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Gov. Cuomo during his daily media briefing On Thursday, April 30, to make the announcement via video conference.
“We’ve been thrown the biggest curveball of our lives with this pandemic,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Look at the consistent heroism of the healthcare workers the first responders, the pharmacist and everyone who came forward. “We are going to find a way to make our subway the cleanest its ever been.”
The MTA continues to face challenging economic times due to the coronavirus shutdown. The nations’ largest transit system, servicing an average of 5.5 million subway riders per day, has lost 92 percent of its passengers and revenue since non-essential businesses closed.
In response to the loss of riders, the MTA is asking the Federal government for $4 billion in stimulus aid. The MTA is also implementing an essential service plan, catering to first responders and suspending weekday service of the B, C, W and Z subway lines. Express train service will go local for 4,5,6, and D trains. Off-peak, on-rush hour service for subways and buses will also see service reductions.
The Long Island Railroad and Metro North trains will also see service reductions. Service station agents are also suspended. Riders will only have access to machines for Metrocard purchases.
The MTA has not issued steep subway service cuts since 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. Subway service was stopped for several days to protect the public from dangerous flooding.
Watch an excerpt from the press conference below.