24/7 subway service resumes in New York City

May 17, 2021

NYC Transit employees remove overnight closure signs. Courtesy of MTA on Flickr

New York City’s subway system resumed 24-hour service on Monday for the first time in over a year. Last May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed the subway overnight as part of a disinfection plan created in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time the trains closed overnight since the subway first opened 116 years ago. The return of 24/7 service this week comes just two days before most capacity restrictions in New York are lifted and as rates of COVID have fallen across the state.

“The subway returning to 24-hour service is a signal that we are closer than we have ever been to normal life,” Sarah Feinberg, interim president of NYC Transit, said.

“We would not be at this point without the sacrifice and dedication of the whole NYC Transit team. It is thanks to their heroic effort throughout this pandemic — coming into work, moving essential workers, keeping the system as clean as it has ever been — that we can return New York City to the city that never sleeps.”

Subway ridership, which would regularly exceed 5.5 million riders per day pre-pandemic and dropped to as low as 278,067 riders on April 12, 2020, is slowly starting to recover. According to the MTA, on May 10, the system saw 2.2 million straphangers, a new single-day record since the start of the pandemic.

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

To encourage New Yorkers to return to public transit, the MTA on Sunday launched a new campaign, #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus. New digital signs on subway entrances and ads on buses will promote the benefits of the subway system, as well as Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road. The new campaign is composed of four sub-campaigns, including “New York is Open,” “Comeback,” “Signs of Affection,” and “Public Transit is Better.”

“The city’s subways and buses along with our commuter rails are cleaner than ever before and prepared to welcome our riders back with safe, reliable service,” MTA Chair Patrick Foye said. “We are eager to see folks back in the system again.”

East 180 St on the 2/5 lines. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr)

Last week, Cuomo and the MTA, along with SOMOS Community Care, rolled out a pilot program that transforms certain subway stations into walk-up vaccination hubs, including Penn Station, Grand Central, East 180th Street, and Broadway Junction. Those who receive the vaccine at these locations will receive a free seven-day MetroCard or two free one-way trips on the LIRR or Metro-North.

The pop-up sites administered 3,497 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine between May 12 to May 15. Citing its success, Cuomo announced on Sunday plans to extend operation of the subway vaccine pop-ups through Saturday, May 22. Hours of operation at these sites is below:

  • Penn Station – 34th Street Corridor (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • Grand Central Terminal – Vanderbilt Hall (8.a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • East 180th Street in the Bronx (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Broadway Junction in Brooklyn (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)


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