Today, May 5th, 2020, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee held a press conference at the 161st Street-Yankee Stadium trains station to address the MTA newly proposed night closures for subway cleaning operation. As New Yorkers prepare for the shutdown of stations between the hours of 1:00 am – 5:00 am, Chair Rodriguez is calling on the MTA and the City to set a 3-month timeline for the cleaning of all stations as the City battles the Novel Coronavirus. We need to periodically monitor the conditions of the subway after a set period of time and evaluate the situation appropriately to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers during the shutdown.
The MTA announced that starting on Wednesday, they would clean and disinfect all subway carts in its fleet. Cleaning would occur every day, with the MTA adding an additional 500 cleaners at terminals and yards. Using new disinfectants, and a wide array of technology equipment, the MTA will be making sure that the public transportation system is thoroughly cleaned.
Council Member Rodriguez also called on the City to work alongside the MTA to ensure that protective masks are being distributed in all stations during the course of the pandemic. The State-mandated order to wear a mask at all times while traversing the subways must be accompanied with support from the City to distribute masks to New Yorkers who need them.
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Additionally, Chairman Rodriguez called on the MTA to work alongside community-based livery bases. Areas in Northern Manhattan, The South Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, where the majority of the essential workers live, must continue reporting to work during the shutdown. These communities are among the most vulnerable in the City and they need viable alternatives while the trains are being cleaned overnight.
Low-income, Immigrant, Latino, Black, and Asian communities have faced the most severe impacts of the virus.
Low-income, Immigrant, Latino, Black, and Asian communities have faced the most severe impacts of the virus. We need to make sure that while these closures are in effect these communities have viable alternatives to the subways. The buses that will become available during the shutdown should be placed in predominantly poor, working-class communities where trains are relied on the most.
Additionally, Chairman Rodriguez working alongside Borough President Eric Adams reinforced their call to ensure that all essential workers receive free transit passes to continue traveling to work.
“Even during a crisis, New York is and will be a 24/7 city. Governor Cuomo needs to provide New Yorkers a timeline of when these overnight closures will end and provide a longer-term solution to keep transit safe and reliable as soon as the shelter-in place is lifted. In addition, the Governor should provide frequent bus service on all routes and effectively communicate travel options to riders,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Organizing Manager at the Riders Alliance.
Ydanis Rodriguez was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, representing the 10th Council District (Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill). An educator for 13 years, Ydanis co-founded Gregorio Luperon High School and the Washington Heights Health Academy. As a leading voice at the NYC Council, Ydanis has brought changes in transportation, education, economic development, housing, police reform, healthcare, environmental policy, and ensuring low-income families have an equitable path to middle class.