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Tuesday, 5 May 2020

MTA releases plan for first-ever overnight NYC subway shutdown due to coronavirus

In this photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, left, explains part of a three-step disinfectant process of a New York City Subway train car to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Corona Maintenance Facility in the borough of Queens borough of New York, Saturday, May 2, 2020. Gov. Cuomo announced on Thursday April 30, that New York City is shutting down its subway system each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to increase cleaning of trains and stations during the coronavirus crisis.
In this photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, left, explains part of a three-step disinfectant process of a New York City Subway train car to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Corona Maintenance Facility in the borough of Queens borough of New York, Saturday, May 2, 2020. Gov. Cuomo announced on Thursday April 30, that New York City is shutting down its subway system each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to increase cleaning of trains and stations during the coronavirus crisis.(Kevin P. Coughlin/AP)

It’s going to be a shut show.
MTA officials are bracing for a bumpy ride when an “unprecedented” number of cops flood the city’s subways early Wednesday to close the public transportation system overnight for the first time in its 115-year-history.
Gov. Cuomo ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority four days ago to power down trains between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for deep cleaning aimed at preventing more coronavirus spread.
The mandate means that all of the city’s 472 subway stations will be exit-only during those hours and homeless New Yorkers who often take overnight refuge in the trains will be turfed out at 1 a.m. by cops.
“The police presence in the subways during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. is going to be at an unprecedented level,” said MTA chairman Pat Foye.
The agency will expand overnight bus service and offer free taxi and for-hire vehicle trips so that essential overnight workers aren’t left high and dry, officials said.
In order to score a free cab ride, those workers must fill out a form on the MTA’s website and call 511 to schedule their pick-up.
They’ll be offered just one free car ride a night, down from the two rides the agency said would be available when Cuomo announced the shutdown last week.
People with emergencies will also be able to get free cab rides by calling 511, but those trips will be “vetted by call centers with internal controls” in order to stave off scammers, said MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins.
The MTA will also schedule 1,100 additional bus trips during the closures to pick up the subway’s slack, which requires roughly 340 bus operators to take overtime shifts each night.
Buses will not charge a fare while the subway is closed, expanding on a decision by transit officials in late March to no longer require a fare on local bus routes so that drivers and riders can social distance.
“We are going to learn and get better as we go,” interim NYC Transit president Sarah Feinberg said of the shutdown. “We are going to learn how to be more efficient and get better at the cleaning as we go. We are going to get better and be more efficient at scheduling cars for people as we go.”
Cuomo ordered the shutdown after reading a front-page story in the Daily News last week that documented the surge of homeless people who have slept on the subway during the pandemic. Some 2,000 people sleep in the subways overnight, according to the latest numbers.
The governor — not transit officials — will decide when the subway reopens, Foye said.

MTA officials will hire 385 additional private cleaners to scrub and disinfect every subway cars once a day in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Transit honchos plan to use the agency’s in-house cleaning force to wipe down surfaces in stations twice daily.

Since early March, subway cars and buses have been aggressively cleaned on a 72-hour cycle.

Mayor de Blasio on Monday said the city’s current homeless outreach program is working, despite hundreds of people in the subway refusing to go into shelters each night.

MTA officials said they’ve alerted the NYPD of the possibility of homeless people who normally sleep in the subways turning to the free buses to shelter overnight.

“The city should do everything possible to reach homeless New Yorkers and connect them with services during this unprecedented public health crisis," Collins said.

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