May 3, 2021 By Allie Griffin
New York State will reopen to near pre-pandemic levels and 24/7 subway service will resume later this month.
Capacity restrictions on most businesses will be lifted altogether on May 19 and overnight subway service will return on May 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Businesses such as restaurants, museums, theaters, retail shops, hair salons, gyms and offices will no longer have to operate at limited capacities across New York — as well as New Jersey and Connecticut.
However, large outdoor stadiums will be limited to 33 percent capacity.
“Today we announce a major reopening of New York State…,” Cuomo said. “Beginning Wednesday, May 19, most capacity restrictions will end across the tri-state region.”
The midnight curfew on outdoor dining at bars and restaurants will also end on May 17. However, the midnight curfew on indoor dining will remain in effect until May 31, Cuomo added.
To coincide with the new capacity reversals and the lifting of the outdoor dining curfew, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) will resume 24/7 subway service on May 17.
“We’re going to coordinate the MTA’s resumption of 24-hour service with the reopening and [more] immediately with the curfew lift,” Cuomo said.
The MTA shuttered overnight service for more than one year as ridership plummeted at the height of the pandemic.
Cleaning crews used the closure — initially from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. — to disinfect and deep clean the subway system. The MTA lessened the out-of-service hours to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. earlier this year.
Cuomo said the agency would continue to clean and disinfect subway cars and stations.
The lessening of COVID-19 restrictions and reopening of 24/7 subway service come at a time when the city is seeing fewer new cases of the virus and more New Yorkers have been vaccinated.
Resumption of round the clock subway service is good news as the Big Apple has always been a 24./7 town. More people work different hours from the old 9 to 5 decades ago.
Riders remain concerned about criminal activity, homelessness and periodic vandalism. This needs to be dealt with if the MTA wants to see a return to pre-COVID 19 numbers. Have the police deal with more important issues than immigrant vendors selling Churro and other products underground. It is time to return to the days when a transit police officer was assigned to ride each train and others patrolled stations. This, along with installation of security cameras on trains and stations might help to reduce the perception of growing crime. Trade in all the former token booth employees who serve as “Station Ambassadors” to help pay for increasing police protection in our subways.
As more riders return, there will also be a potential increase of rats, mice and litter. Suspend the removal of any more trash cans from stations. Consider installing separate cans for recycling newspapers, plastic and glass along with regular garbage. Selling advertising on the side of cans could generate revenue to help cover the costs of more frequent off-peak and late-night collection and disposal.
(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, LIRR, MNRR, MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)