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Cuomo to End 24-Hour Subway Service To Disinfect Trains and Buses

(Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

April 30, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Governor Andrew Cuomo is shutting the New York subway system for four hours each night for “aggressive” coronavirus cleanings.

The system – which has operated on a 24/7 basis throughout the pandemic – will stop for nightly closures so that trains can be cleaned and sanitized, the governor said at a press briefing Thursday.

Service will cease from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each night beginning on May 6.  All customers will be required to leave the trains and the stations during that time.

The announcement comes after much outcry about the influx of homeless people onto the trains. Critics say the trains are filthy and unsafe, off-putting to riders.

Disinfection of New York City Subway cars against coronavirus (MTA CC BY 2.0)

Under the new cleaning plan, the MTA will disinfect thousands of subway cars and buses each night.

The agency will also roll out new and innovative cleaning solutions including ultraviolet, antimicrobial and electrostatic disinfectants.

“It’s a massive undertaking we have to do,” Cuomo said. “You have to disinfect every place a hand could touch. Every handrail, pole, door…and the stations.”

Civic groups and elected officials have been critical of the conditions for weeks, arguing that they have been putting essential workers at risk.

On April 15, three Queens elected officials, including Council Members Bob Holden and Peter Koo, called for the governor and mayor to shut the system down for a week for a deep cleaning– and then upon reopening close it for nightly cleanings.

They argued that the transit system was a contributor to the spread of COVID-19.

“We were ridiculed in statements from the MTA and both the governor and mayor’s offices who said our proposals were not possible, with the MTA actually calling the idea ‘dumb,’” Holden said Thursday.

“Now they are finally implementing some of these measures that we suggested two weeks ago, so imagine how many more lives could have been saved during that time.”

The MTA will provide service to health care workers, first responders and other essential personnel while the trains are shut down each night for cleaning.

The agency will utilize buses, vans and for-hire vehicles to transport these workers to their destinations for free.

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37 Comments

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Anne

Really hope this sticks around after Covid. It doesn’t have to be 1-5 am, but just take time daily to do what’s right. The service is so slow at those hours anyway. I heard that the recent flattening of New York City’s epidemic curve is linked to the decline in ridership that occurred. As for those of us who are not riding the subway for now, Coronavirus can remain in air up to 3 hours and on surfaces for days.

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Rik

It’s honestly about time. What’s the point of closing public places if the subway is open and never disinfected?

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Gardens Watcher

Good idea to shut down for cleaning. Now can he put the brakes on the Mayor’s streetcar to Brooklyn plans too?

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Why are they wasting previous Lysol

If they inject it like Trump told us to there would be no virus

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Pedro

It took thousands of people to die for the subways to be cleaned for the first time in 17 years.

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Woodside

Deblasios first decent move, but about once again a month late. Just think about the results if we did this March 25th?

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Jodi

NYC is SO behind the times…. it is proven to be a breeding ground for COVID. All subways in NYC should have been shut down months ago – and they seem surprised at how much of a hotspot NYC has been for COVID. Idiots. This should be the “new normal.” the deaths outweigh the benefit.

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Jesus

Time to start driving 🥴. When this all over don’t depend on public transportation.

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Observer

After its over will they continue to clean and maintain the subway of course not.

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Ellen

Tyler You neglected to mention who was there first. You’re only charged with a “hate” crime if statements indicate bigotry as a factor for perpetrating said crime.

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David

Tammy – In your infinite wisdom, can you tell us what caused the spread of the virus in China, Italy, Equator, Waterloo, IA and Washington?

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Tammy

People who do not live in NYC do not understand I tell them. You have no idea how bad it is here I tell them with these people, NYers have difficulties understanding basic concepts of peacefulness, gratitude, cleanliness, and social tranquility which is partly to blame for the spread of this virus. Can’t wait to get out!

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Mhel

Then after scrubbing all night, someone gets on and coughs their Rona in the car then you’re back to pre-Rona status all day long 😔

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SubwayRider

Take the homeless out of the subway and bus them to Central park. There are some tenants that the city wasted money on that they are not using. Too bad the ship is leaving. They could of housed some homeless on the ship. Bus them upstate to Cuomo since he acts like he now cares so much about a problem that we have been dealing with for years!

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Elle

They should shut down the MTA altogether. Part of the reason that China, Italy and Spain lowered their cases was because when they said shut it down they meant shut it down, Not well you can go out if you want but wear gloves and masks and practice social distance.

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Trump knew in January and took no action until Aprial.

50,000 dead Americans and climbing. Sad!

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brian

Should have happened at the beginning of the pandemic. Subway is the biggest vector for this virus. It was disgusting to begin with. As an engineer, i will tell you their hvac units are not maintained. Trains and buses should be disinfected, that sounds like routine cleaning to me. Ridiculous. they dont want to touch MTA because they stole money from the agency to fund pet projects – im looking at you cuomo. you too deblasio. you let the homeless build up for years.

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Denise

Why now? Why not from the start of the lock-down? I guess with everything being closed the city is finally monitoring how so many people are still testing positive. Stay away from subways! And limit your time outdoors. Shop only if you need to. They can find another guinea pig when they tell us to get back to work.

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lily

After this is over, taxes are going up yet again for NYers. Not to mention, higher MTA fares and congestion pricing. It’s time to flee NY!

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#dumpdeblasio

Cuomo and DeBlasio: they woke up only because of the videos that had been posted of homeless people using the subways as toilets. This has been going on for a long time. DeBlasio likes to talk tough but he is a wuss when it comes to the real problems. We will turn into Detroit if this goes on much longer.

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Damaris

They can clean it all they want. I am not risking my life to go back to work. I got my unemployment check and i am not paying rent. As the Governor said there is no such thing as forced labor in America 🇺🇸. Be safe.

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Lea

Information on how to help reduce the spread of the virus was available from Europe and China months ago. But many Americans and officials did not care.

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Jennifer

This is in preparation of getting people back to work. I can imagine all the law suits the city is about to face.

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Tyler

Remember the man on the subway that did not want someone standing next to him on the subway. He was charged with a hate crime for spraying lysol near the standing passenger who refused to move away. This happened two months ago. He should be hailed as a hero now and all charges should be dropped.

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SOS

This is a call to action to all New Yorkers to cease paying rent immediately until city officials alleviate the burden created by COVID-19. ACTION : New York City Rent Strike is on Facebook. Thank you.

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Lucky 7 Train

The trains will stay germ-free for about 5 minutes then back to filthy before you can say “fare hike”.

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Larry Penner

Glad to hear that Governor Cuomo wants the MTA to insure all trains are thoroughly cleaned daily. I suggested this weeks ago. Everyone has known for decades that the subway, bus, commuter rail and ferries are a Petri dish for catching a cold, the flu or other communicable diseases. The rise of a growing homeless population, who ride our subways and live at stations have made matters worse. They clearly have little ability to maintain personal hygiene. The previous announcement by MTA Chairman Pat Foye in response to the threat of the corona virus growing was disappointing. His commitment to have transit workers deep clean the entire system using an “enhanced daily cleaning procedure,” or scrub strategy, including bleach and hospital grade disinfectant should have been the norm for years. The same is true for sanitizing “commonly touched surfaces” at stations including turnstiles, exit gates, platform floors, bathrooms, Metro Card vending machines and benches on a daily basis. Deep cleaning subway cars once every 72 hours during this crises was always insufficient. Between homeless on board and rush hour standing room only crowds, they need to be thoroughly cleaned on a 24 hour basis. The odds increase for spreading a communicable disease when you are trapped on a crowded bus or subway for long periods of time. Millions of New Yorkers ride the subway, bus or commuter rail. They should not have to wait once every three days for a complete cleaning of vehicles.

It should not have taken the potential spread of the corona virus for the MTA to properly clean equipment and stations. Safety and security of the riding public should always be the number one priority.

(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus, New Jersey Transit along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).

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JJ

This decision has a lot to do with all those online videos that went viral showing the homeless on the train, hazardous health conditions and crowded trains. Calling 311 does nothing to help. You are better off posting it on social media. Finally some media outlets are talking about how the NYC subway spread this virus and continues to infect riders and mass transit workers.

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