What’s Your Take on the Shutdown Proposal of NYC’s 24/7 Subway?

By: Jennifer Villalba

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New York City Subway is a celebrated hallmark of New York City.

Like NYC, this rapid transit facility never sleeps.

It has been running continuously since its inception in 1904, even in the era of World War II. Counted among one of the oldest and largest public transportation systems in the world. The NYC subway service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. It runs 245 miles of tracks covering The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

Unarguably, NYC Subway is the lifeline of the city. Millions of people from every walk of life use the NYC subway a day, whether they are Wall Street bankers, restaurant workers, janitors, graveyard workers, or casual commuters.

What Happens If This Subway Line Ceased Tomorrow?

It simply means that it would bring the life of New Yorkers to the halt, especially for late-night workers.

In 2017, The Regional Plan Association (RPA) has proposed the shutdown of overnight subway services on the grounds of necessary overhauling to improve the subway’s infrastructure.

The elimination of overnight services would make it easier to get the overhaul done in 15 years which might otherwise take 50 years to complete.

The recommendation of ceasing overnight services has been made in RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan that includes 61 actionable steps for the improvement of NY’s infrastructure, housing, and environment.

RPA believed that this step would facilitate the renovation, maintenance, and construction. The shutdown is proposed to be redeemed by an overnight bus service that would be run during the wee hours of the night.

How many commuters would be affected by this step?

Well, that would be 1.5 percent of total daily ridership—meaning some 85,000 passengers.

Overhauling the NYC Subway is a Necessary Evil

Over the years, the subway is plagued by issues like signal problems, crumbling infrastructure, track fires, and derailments.

According to Business Insider, the number of train delays in NYC has jumped from 28,000 to 70,000 per month. While the MTA is trying its best to patch up the things with touchscreen kiosks, USB ports, and WiFi, it can’t be sidelined that NYC Subway is still running on the technology dating back to World War II.

In June, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a state of emergency for the transit system and sought a $1 billion repair fund. Cuomo was familiar with the fact that upgrades could turn things upside down, making him declare that period as the “Summer of Hell”.

The 700 cars of 6,400 car fleet have exceeded their expiry some 40 years ago. And the oldest of them is 52. The decaying infrastructure has affected the riders’ experience.

“New York’s subway now has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world,” reported the New York Times in November. The report further reveals that just “65 percent of weekday trains reach their destinations on time. The lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s when graffiti-covered cars regularly broke down.

And Here Are Some Bitter Pills to Swallow…

It goes without saying that the shutdown of overnight subway services would impact every New Yorker’s life.

Even Tom Wright, the president of the Urban Research and advocacy group, has to admit this. We think the era of the 24/7 subway has come to an end.

Late-night workers might not reach work. People can have difficulty who wants to get somewhere in the middle of the night.

The City Councilman Rafael Espinal considered that ceasing overnight services would be “disastrous for low-wage workers”.

Speaking to Newsweek, he said, “It’s no secret that New York City is the city that never sleeps,” he said. “It’s (a) part of our identity, and the New York City subway system is part of the life and soul of what makes that possible. If we decide to shut down the subway system from being a 24-hour service. I really believe it will have a severely negative impact on what the city is known for,” he added.

Cory Sciacca, the manager at Sidebar, said that it would negatively impact the business for patrons and staff.

Mitchell Moss, director at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, told The New York Times“Closing the subways is a way to undermine the health care industry, the restaurant industry, the office maintenance industry. This is a threat to the fundamentals of the city’s economy.”

In the wake of outrage, the MTA has shut down some stations like Queens 36th and 30th Avenue for months in 2018.


Sentiments aside, this is a drastic yet much-needed solution to the NYC subway problem. A temporary subway shutdown might lead to improved commuting experience for all New Yorkers. Besides, NYC’s reputation for being a sleepless city isn’t entirely relied on subways, but rather on the vibes of a city. Do you agree with us? Or you think it is pathetic to cease overnight subway services? Let us know by commenting below.