NEW YORK -- New York City subways reopened at 5 a.m. Wednesday after the first day of overnight system-wide shutdowns to allow for deep cleaning of trains amid the coronavirus pandemic, a first in the transit system's 116-year history.
Bus service is increased and offered for free from 1 a.m to 5 a.m., with a priority for routes serving hospitals and those close to subway lines. More than 340 buses will be added to routes, an estimated 150% service increase.
Each night of the closures, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North will cross honor rides with a MetroCard during the subway closure.
The agency estimates 11,000 people use the subway between 1 a.m and 5 a.m., with half of the travel in the 4 a.m. hour.
NYPD helped secure all 472 stations, with people having to leave platforms and stations.
Trains continue to run to their final destinations after 1 a.m., and riders are allowed to disembark and exit as the train travels to its terminal.
Hours after the first night of the shutdown, NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said it went well and they “plan to learn something everyday.”
She said the MTA will make adjustments to bus service to better serve customers during the overnight hours.
Feinberg also said the MTA got “close to 100%” cleaned and there were several cars that were cleaned more than once.
When it comes to homelessness on trains, Feinberg said outreach crews were present to assist those who need help. Buses were also made available to anyone who agreed to go to shelters and safe havens.
Cleaning and disinfecting for buses continue every 24 hours, as well, and all MTA workers have been given proper PPE.
About 106 transit workers have died due to COVID-19 complications, Feinberg said.
MTA officials described everything about this as “unprecedented" late Tuesday night ahead of the first shutdown.
They said the closure allows for disinfection and better access because they don’t have to work around riders. Cleaning and disinfecting will also happen throughout the day at train yards, as well.
Essential workers with a bus commute that runs longer than an hour and twenty minutes and require more than two transfers can register for one free car ride. Proof of essential work is required.
Some commuters who requested the essential car ride told WPIX they were being notified by e-mail Tuesday night that they should expect a follow up phone call.
Information and trip planning are available at www.mta.info/overnight.
Riders and officials said this will be a learning process.
Social workers will be at those stations to offer services to the homeless.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the closures will last “until the pandemic ends.”
This story was originally published by Anthony DiLorenzo and Greg Mocker at WPIX.