NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A new subway cleaning plan was unveiled Thursday that involves a complete suspension of overnight service after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered officials to figure out how to "disinfect every train every night."
"When people get into the train in the morning, they have to know that train was disinfected the night before," Cuomo said. "So that I can say to essential workers that are killing themselves for our state, we are keeping the subways open for you, and when you get on the subway in the morning or the afternoon, know that car was disinfected the night before."
Starting next Wednesday, May 6, the MTA will stop ridership from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily to complete the cleaning. To fill the gaps, the MTA will provide buses, for-hire-vehicles, and dollar vans at no cost to essential workers.
New York City Transit and MTA bus service will continue to run under the MTA Essential Service Plan with enhancements along high ridership routes.
During this overnight period, the MTA will intensify disinfecting operations, cleaning its fleet of thousands of cars and buses every night, and further testing new and innovative cleaning solutions, including UV, antimicrobials and electrostatic disinfectants.
The closure of the system during the overnight period will require significant and sustained NYPD resources.
All customers will be required to leave the trains and the stations during this time.
The MTA also announced a new code of conduct Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic that includes:
--No person is permitted to remain in a station for more than an hour
--No person can remain on a train or platform after an announcement that the train is being taken out of service
--Wheeled carts greater than 30 inches in length or width, including shopping and grocery carts, are banned
The City has agreed to deploy additional NYPD resources systemwide.
"This is an unprecedented time and that calls for unprecedented action to protect the safety, security and health of our system for customers and employees. This closure will enable us to more aggressively and efficiently disinfect and clean our trains and buses than we have ever done before and do it every single day. We are pleased the City has agreed to deploy significant additional resources to the system at this critical time in our history," MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said.
Subway ridership has fallen more than 90 percent during the overnight hours. On average, the MTA says approximately 11,000 customers currently use the subway during this time since the pandemic shutdown started.
ESSENTIAL CONNECTOR SERVICE
Beginning next week, the MTA will launch the "Essential Connector" service between 1-5 a.m. at no cost to essential workers traveling to and from work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the five boroughs. The "Essential Connector" will ensure efficient travel for health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel, including to and from hospitals and other health care services, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and other essential services.
"Essential Connector" customers will be limited to two trips per night on for-hire-vehicles and must show proof of essential travel with appropriate credentials. Customers who do not have a smart phone will also be able to request a ride through a dedicated number. Rides will also be available to customers requiring wheelchair accessible vehicles. Additional details on the "Essential Connector" will be released shortly.
Bus service will continue to run 24/7 under the MTA Essential Service Plan. Where there are large pockets of riders, additional bus service will be added as necessary. More details on the MTA Essential Service Plan are available here.
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will also begin disinfecting trains daily with service under the MTA Essential Service Plan.
The MTA says overnight service will resume when customer demand returns, and "innovative and efficient disinfecting techniques have been successfully deployed systemwide."
As of Wednesday, the MTA says 96 employees have died due to complications of COVID-19.
For updates, please visit new.mta.info.