NYC's 24-hour subway service will finally return this month

The return of service is meant to coincide with the curfew lift at restaurants and bars.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Editor, Time Out New York
Subway q train
Photograph: Shutterstock

When the MTA cut 24/7 subway service last year, it was an unprecedented change to the city that never sleeps.

But starting on May 17, full subway service will return. Since April 2020, service in the early morning hours had been cut to allow for the cleaning of trains and platforms—first between 1 and 5am, and on February 22, service changed to be out only between 2 to 4am.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the return of 24-hour service on Monday, saying it is meant to coincide with the curfew lift for restaurants and bars that same day. Two days later on May 19, capacity restrictions will lift for restaurants, museums, theaters and retail.

"Workers are gonna need to get back and forth now," Cuomo said during his press conference on Monday. "We'll have people working until four in the morning again, so the MTA will resume…to coordinate with the economic activity."

Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said riders organized and got back 24/7 subway service after a year of "punishing overnight commutes that impacted tens of thousands of essential workers." 

"New Yorkers will see a long-overdue return to a crucial part of normalcy," she added. "New York is a 24/7 city because of our subway. The restoration of 24/7 service is a victory not only for the city's reopening but for New Yorkers' determination to hold our public officials accountable."

Cuomo noted that over the last year, cutting service to clean the trains actually improved overall service by the MTA.

"Subway trains have never been cleaner than they are now," he said. "There are fewer homeless now on the trains because when they closed at night, they did the cleaning and referred the homeless to supportive services, which is what they needed in the first place."

He said he told the MTA that the trains must remain clean and that MTA workers must continue to help the homeless.

"Nobody wants the MTA to go back to the old days," he said. "It can’t go backwards on the quality of service." 

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