New York prepares to shut down subway overnight for cleaning

Posted at 5:20 PM, May 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 17:20:04-04

FLUSHING, Queens — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says this is the first time something like this has ever been done, closing the subway system for several hours a day to do a deep cleaning.

He says it’s to keep riders safe and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the city.

“The MTA is going to be disinfecting trains every 24 hours. The MTA is literally going to disinfect every train.”

At the MTA maintenance facility in Corona, Queens this Saturday, Gov. Cuomo said it’s the first time in history the MTA will halt service to sanitize every surface on trains.

”It’s labor intensive, people have to wear hazmat suits. The number of chemicals that disinfect literally have to go thru whole train.”

“We got cars in yards, system cleaning 24 hours a day," Cuomo added. "The goal is every car every day, some more than once.”

City officials say the four hour overnight period has the lowest ridership: about 11,000.

“If you were depending on the subway we’re going to try to match bus service with a similar wait and commune,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of the MTA.

Since the coronavirus outbreak hit New York City , ridership on the subway has plummeted, thousands of MTA workers tested positive and the number of homeless people on the train has gone up.

“You do not help the homeless by letting them stay and sleep on a subway car during a global pandemic,” said Cuomo. “I think it’s an opportunity to get them off the train and connect them service they need.”

The NYPD will be assisting, making sure passengers vacate the subway cars before cleaning begins. One essential worker says the daily disinfecting will make her feel more comfortable commuting.

“I think it’s a good thing, it will keep us safe.”

The overnight closures will start Wednesday. The schedule will likely last through the end of the pandemic.