NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Starting next week, the city's subway system will not be running 24/7 service for the first time ever.
Instead, stations will be closed overnight so trains can undergo deep cleaning during the coronavirus pandemic - and for now, there's no telling when things will go back to normal, reports CBS2's Kevin Rincon.
"We're going to have to do everything we possibly can to clean like we've never cleaned before and disinfect like we've never disinfected before and continue to try and think outside the box," said Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of NYC Transit about the procedures starting on Wednesday.
Feinberg says the shutdown will help keep riders and the workforce safe, and as of now, there's no saying when things will go back to normal.
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"Like everything else in this moment, it's really hard to predict," said Feinberg.
She says the decision to go back to 24/7 service will depend on how things play out.
"If we wake up tomorrow morning and for some reason the mayor says 'You know what, something's changed, I can't support this right now,' or 'I can't devote NYPD resources to this,' this doesn't work and we don't do it," she said.
To make sure things do go back to normal, State Senator Brad Hoylman will introduce a bill that will mandate service gets restored once the pandemic is over.
"This can't become our new normal, we can't let COVID-19 hurt one of New York City's greatest assets," he said. "I think it's an important signal to all New Yorkers, once we beat this virus, we need to get back to business."
For now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says about 10,000 passengers use the subway system in the overnight hours. To help them get around, the agency is adding extra bus service.
But the road to recovery could be a long one. financially the MTA has lost billions of dollars, and that could change how they do business.
"Our top priorities are safety and security," said Feinberg. "The last thing we want to do is make any cuts or changes to service, or increase fares, but what I'm saying to you is, it's impossible to predict where this is all going to land in the coming months and years because this is unprecedented."
When the shutdown goes into effect next Wednesday, each and every one of the 472 stations across the city will be closed to everyone, including the homeless.
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