Too little, too late? Shock as NY subway cleaned overnight for FIRST time in 115 years amid Covid-19 crisis
New York City's iconic 24-hour subway has begun shutting down overnight for deep cleaning, the first deliberate closure in the system's history – a move triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and a growing homeless presence on trains.
Wednesday morning at 1am marked the first time the city's entire system was deliberately shut down for deep cleaning in its history. The system will close down nightly for four-hour disinfection of trains, stations, and equipment as long as coronavirus remains a “threat” to New York, which is still the epicenter of the pandemic. Nearly 14,000 people in the city have died with the virus as of Wednesday.Also on rt.com Cuomo wants to fine people not wearing Covid-19 masks because they could 'literally kill someone'
The decision to shut down the subway was made last week after photos showing filthy trains and homeless people camped out in nearly-empty subway cars went viral, forcing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to confront the disastrous state of the transit system, which has lost over 90 percent of its ridership since the state ordered non-essential businesses to close in March. While homeless people taking shelter in the subway is not new, the sharp drop in ridership meant they were much more visible, and sick or furloughed transit employees meant there were fewer workers tasked with rousting them.
The system has only shut down deliberately twice before, in 2011 and 2012, both times for weather-related reasons – never for cleaning, which is done on a staggered basis as trains finish their runs and enter yards sprinkled throughout the city. Stations are usually cleaned in the early-morning hours, but remain open during cleaning.
While many on social media were surprised to learn that New York's subways had been operating nonstop since 1904, others were appalled to learn that the trains had been running throughout the pandemic, suggesting that the city's high caseload might be due to the notoriously dirty transit system.
Only a Democrat governor in New York City could get away with waiting until AFTER the peak of cases in the epicenter of a pandemic to clean the subways for the first time in 115 years.It's May 2020. https://t.co/xC0rnMaP7C— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) May 6, 2020
Wild that no one thought of this in the first 115 years. Or you know, in the first few months of a deadly pandemic. https://t.co/Eka63BKKMi— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) May 6, 2020
Others cracked jokes about the famously filthy trains literally not having been cleaned in 115 years.
New Yawk Coty has waited 115 years to clean its subway trains. There is probably still some Spanish Flu in some of those carriages. https://t.co/d2wsB5xWj2— Stacy Herbrrrt (@stacyherbert) May 6, 2020
115 years? Finally cleaned that bloodstain from when Teddy Roosevelt punched an organ grinder. https://t.co/bSKuld4IoZ— jon gabriel (@exjon) May 6, 2020
New Yorkers seized the opportunity to air their grievances.
The NYC subway is 115 years old and has only taken one night off which explains why the trains seem constantly rerouted by someone with dementia. “The F is now the C and it’s going to Jersey somehow. The G is now a butterfly. The last car smells bad because I shit myself!”— Dan Wilbur (@DanWilbur) May 6, 2020
... 115 years but the fare has continuously gone up. https://t.co/YpCJYFEo7k— Baguette Taylor (@briatiapia) May 6, 2020
Some 11,000 riders who had been using the system between 1 and 5am will be affected by the shutdown, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the city's subways and buses. The agency plans to offer riders who can prove their travel is “essential” two free trips per night in “for-hire vehicles,” as well as free rides on buses and so-called “dollar vans,” to replace the lost service. However, some subway riders have expressed fear that 24-hour service may never return, given the agency's perennial budget woes.
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