NYC’s 24-hour subway service returns ahead of major reopening week

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NEW YORK — After more than a year of overnight shutdowns, 24/7 subway service resumed overnight in New York City.

The city’s subway system has been long celebrated for its all-night service. But in an unprecedented move in May 2020, subway service was shut down nightly between 1 and 5 a.m. to allow transit workers and cleaning crews to disinfect trains and stations as COVID ravaged New York City.

New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg assured New Yorkers the MTA would continue to disinfect subway cars and train stations despite returning to 24/7 service.

Amid ongoing concerns of subway safety, Feinberg continued her calls for more resources to be deployed to the transit system. She also said crime in subways is not concentrated in a specific area, but it’s “just a problem we’re seeing throughout the system.”

Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority leadership announced in February that around-the-clock subway service would be gradually restored, beginning with a smaller shutdown window of 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., as a second wave of COVID cases and hospitalizations began to ebb.

Earlier in May, Cuomo announced the overnight closures would end on Monday, May 17. The final 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. closure occurred on Sunday and 24/7 service was restored when trains and stations reopened, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.

The governor has vowed that the cleanliness of trains and stations would remain a priority after full service is restored.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed the subways are safe as more New Yorkers return, the MTA has continued asking the NYPD to send hundreds of more officers into the system to help curb a surge in underground crime.

As overnight subway service resumes, an outdoor dining curfew has ended at local restaurants and bars.

The subway restoration and eased dining restrictions come ahead of an even larger reopening step set for Wednesday, when most capacity limits on businesses in New York will end.

All of this was made possible, according to the governor, through continued vaccinations against COVID-19, which have helped bring down the rate of virus transmission as well as the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

On Sunday, New York’s Department of Health reported 1,561 new cases out of 156,380 tests reported on Saturday — a positivity rate of 1%. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 1,583 — the lowest since Nov. 9, 2020. 

Thirty-three new fatalities were reported, bringing the state’s death toll since March 2020 to 42,473.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.

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