By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
Full time subways service is back; making late-night buses a thing of the past.
As reported by the NY Post, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will cut the pandemic-era shuttle buses, which were added to assist riders stranded by nightly subway closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those three bus lines created will cease to operate as of Wednesday June 9th. The 24/7 subway service was already reinstated as of May 17, after over a year of nightly subway closures from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to allow for cleaning and disinfecting of the stations and platforms, and to rid stations of homeless people.
Nighttime bussing added to 13 pre-existing routes will also end after Wednesday, MTA officials said. “When we temporarily halted subway overnight service during the height of the pandemic, we added significantly more bus service from 1-5 a.m., including new bus routes that mirrored subway routes,” MTA rep Aaron Donovan said in a statement. “After evaluating bus ridership since 24/7 subway service resumed more than a month ago, it’s clear that customers who were using those routes are returning to subways, eliminating the need for the additional late night bus service mirroring the subway.”
Indeed, since the subway service has been reinstated, ridership on the replacement buses has waned. The three routes connecting Manhattan and the outer boroughs, which had carried some 6,000 riders nightly in October, had less than 4,000 riders once nightly subway routes were reopened. Bus ridership during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. subway shutdowns averaged 13,794 last October, as per the MTA. That ridership has been falling, since February when the shutdown hours were reduced to two hours, and then fully reopened in May. Between May 24 and May 28, the average nightly bus ridership fell to 11,356, thanks to the subways being reinstated to 24/7 service.
Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said the substitute buses were never an ideal for commuters. More night buses are needed, Pearlstein said, but not on routes already served by subways. “The nighttime buses were never a substitute for 24/7 subway service, which New York has really grown up around and many New Yorkers depend on,” he told The Post. “With the return of 24/7 service, we have to admit the nighttime buses were a poor substitute.”