ALBANY – New York City will shut down its subway system from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every day beginning Wednesday in order to disinfect each train nightly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
The nightly shutdown plan will disrupt the subway system's 24-hour service, which Cuomo said was necessary to ensure each train can be appropriately cleaned as the state remains the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus outbreak.
As it stands, subway trains are disinfected every 72 hours.
Metro North and Long Island Rail Road trains will also be disinfected nightly under the new plan, but the increased cleaning won't require any service disruption on the commuter lines, Cuomo said.
Cuomo announced the plan at his daily coronavirus briefing, where he was joined in person by top officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and virtually by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who pledged support for the joint state-city plan.
"This is as ambitious as anything we have ever undertaken and it’s going to require a lot of effort from many agencies working together," Cuomo said.
New York City's public-transit system has remained open throughout the state's coronavirus outbreak, with Cuomo and city officials arguing it needs to remain open in order to transport essential health care workers to their jobs.
Earlier this week, Cuomo called on the MTA to craft a plan to sanitize trains each night, saying health care workers deserve to know the trains are clean.
Essential workers who have to report to work or return home from the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. will be provided transportation by bus, van or a for-hire vehicle provided by the MTA, Cuomo said.
De Blasio said the city will do anything it can to support the cleaning plan.
Under the plan, NYPD officers will have to help shut down train stations each night to facilitate the cleaning.
"We’re going to find a way to make our subway system cleaner that it has ever been in its history, probably," de Blasio said.
Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.