Late-night subway shutdown attention centers on Coney
As has been widely publicized, the MTA’s policy of closing down its trains for cleaning and disinfection in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic began Wednesday night.
People, including, but not only, the homeless were asked to leave trains at the terminals of subway lines, and then the MTA staff got to work. Cops were also conspicuous on the scene. While this scene was enacted at every terminal station, such as 207th Street in Manhattan and Far Rockaway, nowhere was it more pronounced than at Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.
Unlike most of the other terminal stations, Coney Island is the last stop not only for one line but for four, the N, Q, D and F trains. It takes people to the summer amusement district and also serves as a transfer point.
Out of the 472 stations in the subway system, Coney Island was No. 100 in ridership in 2008, according to MTA statistics. And on Wednesday night, Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue was where much of the action was.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the nightly shutdown between 1 and 5 a.m., which also includes the Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth trains. He pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic makes keeping the system clean even more urgent, and that train workers have been bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
Another aspect of the program is making sure the homeless leave the trains and providing services for them. There’s nothing new about this — this writer has seen, countless times, cops going through a train at the end of its route, tapping people who are sleeping on the seats and telling them that they have to leave.
This time, according to one report, about 1,000 cops were seen underground, helping to get the homeless off the platforms. However, the MTA also offered social services for the homeless, which it also has done in the past.
Steven Banks, commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services, the city “engaged” 252 homeless people on Wednesday, 139 of whom accepted invitations to move to shelters or safe havens.
“In the face of this unprecedented public health crisis, we’re committed to working with the state and the MTA to ensure every essential worker has clean and safe transit options and to look after our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re glad to partner with the state to accomplish that goal and we’re committed to continuing to deploy our outreach teams to help bring people off the street and into shelter.”
During the closure period, the number of buses on the street is slated to increase by 1,168, or more than 76 percent, making up somewhat for the trains that have been taken out of service, according to the MTA.
Unlike other cities, New York has consistently, with the exception of one or two lines occasionally, maintained 24-hour service in its subway system — until now.
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