NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As more and more New Yorkers return to their offices, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it's time for the MTA to restore full 24/7 subway service.
He announced Monday that the MTA will resume around-the-clock operations starting on May 17.
The call to restore full service came as the subway system saw its highest number of swipes since March 2020, with more than 2 million trips recorded in April 8.
It also comes the same day 80,000 municipal workers returned to their New York City offices and coincides with the lifting of the midnight food and beverage service curfew for outdoor dining areas.
Cuomo said the MTA will continue its unprecedented disinfection and cleaning effort.
"COVID-19 is on the decline in New York City and across New York State, and as we shift our focus to rebuilding our economy, helping businesses and putting people back to work, it's time to bring the Subway back to full capacity," Cuomo said. "We reduced subway service more than a year ago to disinfect our trains and combat the rising tide of COVID cases, and we're going to restore 24-hour service as New York gets back on the right track. This expansion will help working people, businesses and families get back to normal as the city reopens and reimagines itself for a new future."
Beginning May 6, 2020, New York City Transit closed for disinfection from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The MTA provided free alternative transportation options to essential workers during the overnight hours that included a significant expansion of bus service across the city and for-hire vehicles as necessary.
"At this critical moment for New York's recovery, Gov. Cuomo and the MTA recognize the time is now right to safely restore overnight service on the subways," MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said. "The city's economic revival hinges on a strong mass transit system, and a vital part of that is round-the-clock service. The MTA stands ready to power New York through this crucial next stage, as it has throughout the pandemic, prioritizing safety above all. Our rigorous disinfecting protocols remain in place, and we expect to see continued high mask usage thanks to the systemwide mask mandate."
On February 15, Cuomo announced that the MTA would partially restore overnight service on the New York City subway, pending continued positive trends in New York's COVID indicators. Effective Monday, February 22, the MTA extended late-night subway service by two hours, moving to a 2 a.m. - 4 a.m. closure daily.
"Overnight workers like waitresses, bartenders and more depend on Transit to get around in the late-night hours," interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg said. "We've been moving them for the last year by bus and I'm thrilled that we can once again provide them with safe and efficient overnight SUBWAY service as well, as more COVID restrictions on businesses are lifted. We take our duty to keep riders safe seriously, which is why our mask mandate and disinfecting regimen will continue, and we will keep pressing the city to provide the police and mental health resources needed to accommodate returning customers. New Yorkers, including our heroic workforce, deserve nothing less."
The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began and leveraged innovative technology to ensure the system is as safe as possible for its customers.
The MTA continues to work with FEMA for reimbursement on eligible COVID-related costs, and the Transit Authority has also rolled out public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers.
Mask compliance in the system remains high, with more than 97% of customers wearing a mask when riding mass transit.
These COVID-related measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
The MTA also unveiled updates to the subway map that allow riders to find the nearest vaccination site throughout the city.
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