NY Gov Andrew Cuomo has announced the shutdown of the NYC subway system 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. so that trains can be disinfected.
Cuomo said essential workers will be able to take alternative transportation at no cost, including buses and “for-hire vehicles.”
According to NPR, the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority previously had been cleaning its trains every 72 hours in response to the coronavirus.
The crisis has decimated subway traffic in New York, with ridership down more than 90%, according to city officials, as residents observe lockdown measures. An estimated 11,000 riders have been traveling the subway during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. window.
The undertaking is a joint effort between the MTA and city and state officials.
Cuomo said, “We want to honor the essential workers”.
Shutting down the system overnight is crucial for the transit agency to test and explore disinfecting techniques, including ultraviolet lights and antimicrobial agents, M.T.A. officials said.
According to the NY Times, public transit in New York City is the only system in the United States, and among the relatively few in the world, that runs all its train lines 24 hours a day.
The system has shut down only twice in the past decade — in 2011 for Hurricane Irene and in 2012 for Hurricane Sandy, both times for days. In 2015, the system halted passenger service but kept equipment trains running in response to a blizzard.
Bus services will continue throughout the night as scheduled, and the agency will add additional buses where needed when late-night subway service is suspended.