NEW YORK -- The New York City subway service will shut down daily between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
The shutdown goes into effect in the morning hours of May 6, Cuomo said.
“This is going to be one of the most aggressive, creative, challenging undertakings that the MTA has done,” he said.
It will be a joint partnership with the MTA, state and city, according to Cuomo.
During his coronavirus briefing, Cuomo discussed how disinfecting is different from the MTA’s daily cleaning and said trains and buses should be disinfected every 24 hours.
To disinfect a train means workers would need to "disinfect every place a hand could touch" or wherever droplets could land,” which means workers would need to disinfect the entire interior of the subway car in addition to parts of the subway station "everything that people could be touching. It is a massive undertaking that we've never done before," he said.
Overall ridership is down about 92% since the pandemic began, according to Cuomo. There are about 10,000 riders during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. time frame — the lowest ridership throughout the day.
Cuomo said we need essential workers to go to work, and those essential workers need the public transit system, especially the subway in NYC.
The MTA launched the Essential Connector Program, which provides transportation to impacted riders through buses, for-hire vehicles, and compliant “dollar vans” at no cost to essential workers, according to Cuomo.
“People who need transportation during 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. can have it, will have it,” Cuomo said.
“We don’t have bars open, we don’t have restaurants open. So you don’t have a lot of traffic that you would normally have. You do have essential workers who are using our trains and subways, and they will have transportation during that time.”
MTA will also disinfect the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North fleet every day without service disruption.
There are nearly 300,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in New York, with about 160,000 cases in New York City as of Wednesday, according to the state and city health departments.
This story was originally published by Kristine Garcia and Mark Sundstrom at WPIX.