The Overnight Subway Shutdown: What Essential Workers Need To Know

For the first time in its 104-year history, the New York City subway system will not run around the clock, ceasing service from 1a to 5a for Governor Cuomo’s mandated deep-cleaning and homeless outreach. 

But the shutdown has prompted concern among essential workers who rely on the subway overnight, particularly since there’s no real end date for the service disruption. (Cuomo says it’ll last through the pandemic, but, of course, there’s no end date for that, either.) 

To help commuters, the MTA has set up an Essential Connector program as a substitute for overnight service. The agency is running free overnight buses, with enhanced and local express service on routes servicing hospitals and routes that parallel subway service. 

Because buses aren’t as fast or convenient as the subway, to help New Yorkers with longer or more complicated commutes, the MTA will allow you to book a free ride in a for-hire vehicle. There are some stipulations: To qualify for a free ride, your bus commute would have to take more than an hour and 20 minutes, require more than two transfers or be at least a 10-minute walk from your destination.  

This isn’t a perfect solution to overnight subway service, which will hopefully return in full once the pandemic has subsided. Still, for some commuters, the Essential Connector will be a big help. You can pre-book an overnight ride or request a ride on demand from 1a to 5a by calling 718-330-1234.

photo: iStock