New York Essential Workers on Night Shift – How Long is the Ride Home?

Starting May 6, New York City’s subway system is shuttered every night between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for cleaning and disinfecting during the pandemic. The subways have always run at night to accommodate more than one hundred thousand workers on the second or third shift. Even with non-essential workers ordered to stay home, and use of the subway reduced by 92%, over 10,000 essential workers have needed to get to their jobs, most still relying on the subway, and spreading the virus. The politicians recognized the subway system had to shut down long enough every day to disinfect both subway cars and stations. So how to get essential workers to their jobs while the subway is closed?

The government came up with the cheapest way possible – it told essential night-workers to ride the city buses. Even with the promised extra-frequent buses, this is a plan that doubles travel time for many of these workers. Only in the case in which a worker has to transfer between two bus lines and the total bus ride takes more than 90 minutes will the city arrange an Uber or a taxi ride. And the city officials have warned there will be a limit to the number of cab/Uber rides available.

Everyone acknowledges the sacrifices essential workers are making. The politicians call them heroes, and you might think that the least the city could do for already highly-stressed essential workers would be to guarantee them a direct ride home. But that would stress the subway system budget, which is underfunded because NYC businesses won’t pay more taxes to support the system their workers need to get to work. Once more, profits over people.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons