On early Wednesday morning, the New York City subway shut down overnight for the first time in 115 years. As the New York Times reports, the MTA shut down from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., allowing workers to disinfect trains and stations amid the coronavirus pandemic. Going forward, the MTA will perform the four-hour cleaning shutdown nightly to help prevent the spread of the virus.
"We’re in an unprecedented moment in the history of our city," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Patrick J. Foye. "The reason we’re taking this extraordinary, unprecedented action is to protect the safety and public health of our customers and our employees."
Weather has impacted the NYC subway system in the past, with both Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 suspending passenger service. The blizzard that hit the city in 2015 also temporarily closed the subway, but this is the first time the MTA h planned a shutdown.
The Times points out that there might be growing pains when it comes to this new schedule, with New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg adding they would have needed "months" of planning to pull it off without issue. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City, subway ridership is down 90 percent. Despite this, the MTA confirmed that approximately 11,000 people have used the subway during the planned shutdown hours.
During the scheduled closures, the MTA will start to test "innovative solutions" to help combat the spread of the virus.