U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority restore around-the-clock subway service in New York City, which has been reduced for cleaning during the pandemic.
The city’s subway system, long celebrated for its all-night service, shuts down each day from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. so trains and stations can be disinfected.
The Senate’s top Democrat says the system should resume 24-hour service immediately. He pointed to a jump in subway ridership, a drop in the number of coronavirus cases reported in the city and the number of people being vaccinated.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week that he expects to see COVID-19 restrictions lifted and the city “fully reopen” by July 1. He also said he believes July 1 is “the right time” to bring 24-hour subway service back.
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But the mayor doesn’t have unilateral power to lift remaining pandemic restrictions and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has the power to restore 24-hour service on the subways. About half of all adults in the city have now had at least one vaccine dose.
Neither Cuomo nor the MTA have announced a specific date for when around-the-clock service might return.
Subway ridership took a major dip in the early days of the pandemic. Statistics show subway service is still down more than 50% compared to pre-pandemic days, but subway turnstiles recorded more than 2 million swipes or taps earlier this month for the first time since the pandemic began.
Schumer says he worked to secure billions of dollars in federal relief for the transportation agency to serve New Yorkers who “rely on it fully functioning.”
“The city that never sleeps is waking up from COVID, and so should the subway,” Schumer said.