New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that for the first time in history, the New York City subways will shut down. Cuomo held his usual daily press briefing on the public health crisis on Tuesday, giving NYC residents a few hours of notice before their public transportation system was closed for the night. The subways will undergo deep cleaning before they reopen.
"Tonight we're going to shut down the subway for the first time in history, Cuomo announced on Tuesday, according to a report by CNN. He first warned of the historic change last week, explaining that the subway system would shut down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each night beginning on May 6. This will allow the city to clean the subway cars thoroughly, which will hopefully stop them from contributing to the spread of COVID-19 — the coronavirus. New York City remains the North American epicenter of the pandemic.
NYPD officers will go into every subway station in the city on Tuesday night to clear them out for cleaning. Many city officials expect the city's homeless population to be displaced as all 472 stations are emptied — a move that has not been attempted since the New York City Subway system was first established in 1904.
"The police presence in the subways during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. is going to be at an unprecedented level," said MTA chairman Pat Foye, according to a report by the New York Daily News. According to the outlet, the MTA will be expanding bus services, for-hire vehicle trips and offering free taxi rides for essential workers during the cleaning periods. Workers can fill out a form on the MTA's website to ensure they have a ride.
"We are going to learn and get better as we go," said, Sarah Feinberg, interim NYC Transit president. "We are going to learn how to be more efficient and get better at the cleaning as we go. We are going to get better and be more efficient at scheduling cars for people as we go."
The cleanings come after a reported surge in homeless presence overnight in NYC subways. The latest estimates suggest that 2,000 people have slept on subways overnight, endangering themselves and other riders as serve as potential coronavirus vectors. According to a report by CBS New York, the decision to close the subways for cleaning comes after two homeless men were found dead on two different subways this weekend. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.