New York City's subway system -- the nation's largest -- went silent in the early morning hours Wednesday as the normally round-the-clock system shut down for train disinfecting.
Service was curtailed in late March, but is now being stopped entirely from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was embarking on a historic and multi-pronged effort to make the subways a safer way to get around the city during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Fewer trains would be running in the overnight hours anyway, but the shutdown allows for daily cleanings and for city workers to move homeless people who have been more visible in subway cars during the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York Police Department has assigned more than 1,000 officers to secure many of the system's 472 stations, as fewer than 200 can be physically locked up.
Outreach teams made up of officers and nurses are being sent to 29 end-of-line stations to roust homeless people from trains that are headed out of service for cleaning, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said Tuesday.
To make up for the lost subway service, the MTA will provide more bus service — 1,168 more bus runs, a 150% increase during the overnight hours.
The agency is also touting its Essential Connector Program, providing free for-hire car rides to overnight workers.
New York City normally has the country's busiest public transit system, with a weekday ridership of more than 5 million. But the impact of the coronavirus and people staying at home has been severe, with overall mass transit use dropping more than 90% in the past several weeks.
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