MTA to expand NYC subway nighttime operating hours

New York City's subways will run for two more hours every day starting later this month, and the nightly system shutdown for cleaning will be reduced as part of a phased reopening, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday.

Starting Feb. 22, subways will run until 2 a.m., and start again at 4 a.m., the first expansion of operating hours since shutdowns were instituted in May of last year to allow for cleanings during the pandemic.

"We have determined that a shortened overnight closure is an appropriate step forward towards the return of around-the-clock service," said Sarah Feinberg, interim New York City Transit president, at a press conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The cleanings that had gone on between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. will continue in the shortened shutdown period, she said.

A survey by Hofstra University published last month found three out of four riders felt safer riding the subway as a result of COVID cleaning, the MTA says.

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The results were in line with an MTA survey conducted in the fall with a similar finding: 76 percent of 20,000 customers agreed that cleaning and disinfecting made them feel safe when using transit.

"We are confident that we can maintain the cleaning and disinfecting that we have been able to do thus far," she said.

The shutdown of New York City's famously all-hours subway system was jarring to many. Barring short-term interruptions by events like severe weather or labor disputes, the subways had been run as a continuous, around-the-clock operation since 1904.

The MTA suspended subway service between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. daily on May 6, 2020, at the same time that it significantly enhanced overnight bus service.

The MTA increased overnight bus service by 76 percent by adding 1,168 overnight bus runs, bringing 344 buses into service on top of the 235 that had been operating during these hours - an approximately 150 percent increase in the operational fleet.

With the Associated Press.