Subways in New York City will soon resume running longer into the night, transit officials announced on Monday, marking a step toward the resumption of normal life amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting next Monday, the subway system will only stop operating from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., instead of the current closure of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., said Patrick J. Foye, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees transit around New York City.
Mr. Foye described the move as a phased reopening, although he did not give a date for when officials will fully end the first closure of overnight scheduled service in history.
The overnight closure began last May, when the pandemic ripped through New York and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo mandated that the city’s famously 24-hour subway system be shut down overnight for disinfection. Mr. Cuomo — who controls the New York transit agency — has said that the subway would resume 24-hour operations when the pandemic was over. The governor has been heavily criticized for the shutdown, which transit advocates say hurts thousands of essential workers who have been forced to find alternative ways to travel.
For decades, the city’s sprawling subway system has offered a shelter of last resort for thousands of homeless New Yorkers. Particularly during the winter months, many who are wary of the city’s often crowded and sometimes violent shelters descend into the system from the parks and streets above, seeking sanctuary in its round-the-clock trains.
Now, homeless people living on the streets are confronting a dangerous mix of winter weather and a lack of indoor public spaces — like subway stations, trains and fast-food restaurants — that once offered a respite each night.