NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The daily shutdown of the New York City subway system begins overnight Wednesday.
The subways will be closed from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. overnight everyday so that all trains can be properly disinfected amid the coronavirus pandemic.
MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye told WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace the situation is monumental, and the agency is still navigating through the process.
“This is the first time this has happened in the 116-year history of the subways. This is to allow an unprecedented 24/7 cleaning operation and disinfecting of every subway car. Every bus is going to be disinfected as well,” Foye said.
The MTA has hired 385 private cleaners to help in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. All 472 train stations will be exit only as trains are powered down for the night.
“Everybody is going to have to leave the system. We're shutting the system down from 1 to 5 a.m. So, unless you're in NYPD uniform, EMT, a transit worker uniform or a nurse or social worker, everybody's got to leave the system,” Foye stressed
Mayor Bill de Blasio has also ensured any homeless individual taking shelter in the subway system will be escorted to a safe bed and support services.
“Our homeless outreach teams will be there, NYPD outreach teams will be there to make sure there's a maximum chance of getting people to come in and stay in, so I think it triggers a whole different reality,” he said.
Foye says the agency will be working with the proper departments to ensure all homeless individuals are helped, but stressed that it “doesn’t help anybody to have homeless New Yorkers living on the subways.”
The chairman says that the agency will prevent free bus service for essential overnight workers, which could be double or triple their commuting times.
“We are providing substantially increased bus service during this period, for instance the number of bus trips during this period is going to increase by over 1,100 bus trips. That's more than 76% increase and we're hitting 344 new buses on top of the 235 that are already deployed. So we're increasing the operational fleet of buses by nearly 150% percent during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. period,” Foye said.
Any essential worker whose commute is not workable on the bus network will have access to black livery cars at no extra cost.
Commuters can use the MTA trip planning app to see how their commutes will be affected during the overnight hours.
Anyone, like WCBS 880’s Lisa Tschernkowitsch – whose commute would take over two hours to travel from upper to lower Manhattan – should call 511.