The MTA must resume 24/7 operations after nearly a year of nightly shutdowns attributed to COVID-19, Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
“The City That Never Sleeps has a name that we have to live up to everywhere, including within our subway service,” the Senate Majority Leader said during an appearance outside the Lexington Av./53rd Street station in Manhattan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced nightly 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. shutdowns last May, claiming officials had to clear out homeless people and other riders in order to properly disinfect trains amid the pandemic.
Transit officials shortened the closure to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February, amid an emerging scientific consensus that COVID-19 mostly does not spread through surfaces. MTA Chairman Pat Foye had previously said the closures would end “when the governor declares the pandemic over.”
Speaking in Manhattan, Schumer said the shutdown defies logic as bars and restaurants stay open later into the night, and Mayor Bill de Blasio seeks to reopen the city by July 1. He said growing ridership pointed to the need for extended service hours.
“News flash: this is New York City. People work at 2 a.m., 3 am., 4 a.m. That’s how we are,” Schumer told reporters.
“People work at 2, 3 and 4 in the morning, but subways aren’t at this point at 2, 3, 4 in the morning.”
Schumer is the latest high-ranking official to call on the Cuomo-controlled MTA to resume late-night service, adding his voice to comments by the mayor last week,
The Senate majority leader helped secured $15 billion in federal aid for the MTA, which nearly went bankrupt due to the pandemic’s dramatic hit on ridership and tax revenues.
Riders Alliance director Betsy Plum, who appeared alongside Schumer, said the nightly closures had forced former transit riders to take cars to get to work.
“We need 24 hour service restored now and we are calling on the governor to do that immediately,” Plum said.
“This is so that workers who are keeping our city running don’t have to pay $40, $50, $60 for cabs. This is so that workers don’t have to string together a five-bus commute.”