Survey finds support for return to overnight subway service among New Yorkers

A passenger waits as a New York City subway train pulls into the station in Brooklyn, New York
A majority of New Yorkers support a return to 24/7 subway service, a poll found.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New Yorkers strongly support a return to overnight subway service, according to a recent survey — marking a rejection of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s current practice of shutting down the service for “cleaning” each night. 

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress, found that more than two-thirds of respondents favored a return to full service in the city’s subway system. 

“New Yorkers resoundingly want 24/7 subway service back now,” said Riders Alliance Policy and Communications Director Danny Pearlstein. “Our city cannot reopen and recover without it.” 

The survey polled 591 randomly selected New Yorkers, all of whom identify as Democratic primary voters, and each of them responded that they “want to see a return to 24-7 subway service.” 

Of the respondents, 48 percent said they “strongly agree,” while 19 percent said they “somewhat agree” — totaling 67 percent of people that somewhat agreed. 

The MTA, which is controlled by the state government, has insisted throughout the pandemic that the overnight shutdown is necessary to keep train cars sanitized and inspire confidence in the system, which serves a fraction of the number of riders it did pre-pandemic. 

The authority recently scaled back its overnight shutdown, shuttering trains only from 2 am to 4 am, two more hours than the earlier shutdown which lasted from 1:00 am to 5:00 am. 

Critics of the shutdown have contended that there is little scientific evidence that there is a need to fully sanitize trains to prevent COVID-19, which studies have shown spreads through the air and not through surfaces. 

The most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control acknowledges that the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface is less than 1 in 10,000.