NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Subway ridership is the highest its been since the start of the coronavirus pandemic began and there’s a new push for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to return to 24-hour subway service.
But as CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Sunday, not everyone is on board.
Every day between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. transit workers clean the city’s transit system.
- New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX
- New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC vaccinations by zip code
- Nassau County more info here
- Suffolk County more info here
- Westchester County more info here
- New Jersey book online here or call 1-855-568-0545
- Connecticut book online here
It has been a hallmark of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many riders saying the cars are the cleanest they’ve ever been.
“It’s more efficient for them to have time to clean it at night,” Bay Ridge, Brooklyn resident Gwen Hulet said.
But with Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifting the midnight curfews on outdoor dining on May 17 and indoor dining, including bars, on May 31, Sen. Chuck Schumer said the subways are now needed even more at all hours of the night.
“This is New York City. People work at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. That’s how we are, again,” Schumer said.
Early morning shift and restaurant workers say they need to leave home before 4 a.m.
“An Uber is too expensive and we can’t be stranded,” one worker said.
“It’s just so inconvenient,” added Upper West Side resident Graham Wren.
“This is the city that never sleeps. One night, I need to get home from a late night and I can’t,” Crown Heights resident Kyzer Langley added.
Schumer said it’s safe, citing the number of COVID cases being down 42% from last week and 35% of New Yorkers being fully vaccinated.
Schumer was joined at his press conference by the Riders Alliance, but another passenger advocacy group, Passengers United, disagrees, saying the city should wait a few more months and work on increasing police patrols during the overnight, as well as solidifying out a cleanup plan.
“Because a lot of these homeless, there’s no restrooms for them and those two hours are critical in terms of cleaning the subway,” said Charlton D’Souza, president of Passengers United.
- Ask CBS2’s Dr. Max Your Vaccine Questions
- COVID Vaccine FAQ From CDC
- Vaccination Sites In New York City | Call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC Vaccinations By Zip Code
- Find A New York City Testing Site Near You
- Check NYC Testing Wait Times
- Resources: Help With Unemployment, Hunger, Mental Health & More
- Remote Learning Tools For Students And Parents At Home
- Complete Coronavirus Coverage
D’Souza said it’s critical for getting homeless individuals help when they’re forced to leave the system.
“Then, Social Services has an interaction, they’re able to interact with them and plead with them to go into short-term housing or long-term housing in a hotel,” D’Souza said. “Twenty four-hour subway service only works if you have 400 social workers in the subway system, because right now the contract with the BRC — Bowery Residents Committee — they only maybe have 10-15 caseworkers in the subway.”
The Transport Workers Union said it only supports resuming overnight service if cleaning and disinfecting of trains continues. A spokesperson said, “The MTA needs to hire more TWU cleaners. Too many positions were not filled during the pandemic.”
“Maybe like certain stations are closed and they keep some others open,” college student Demmy Fisher said.
An MTA spokesperson referred CBS2 to earlier comments made by leaders, who said 24/7 service will resume “soon.”
But he would not address any specific dates.