MTA will cut late buses after 24/7 subway service returns

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The MTA’s pandemic-era shuttle buses are about to be a thing of the past with the recent return of 24/7 subway service, The Post has learned.

Three bus routes created to assist riders stranded by nightly pandemic subway closures will cease operation after Wednesday morning, transit officials said Sunday.

Around-the-clock subway service resumed May 17 after more than a year of nightly closures instigated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make room for cleaning and disinfecting by clearing stations and platforms of homeless people and other stragglers.

Nighttime runs that officials added to 13 pre-existing routes also end after Wednesday, 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.

An MTA sign about late night subway closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An MTA sign about late night subway closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christopher Sadowski

“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.”

Bus ridership during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. shutdowns averaged 13,794 last October, the MTA said, and has dropped since the shutdowns were shortened in February then scrapped altogether three months later.

With night trains open for riders, average nightly bus ridership dropped to 11,356 between May 24 and May 28, officials said.

Combined with the routes that had night service added, the three new routes connecting Manhattan and the outer boroughs carried nearly less than 4,000 people after the closures ended — compared to 6,000 people per night in October.

Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said the substitute buses never worked for commuters. More night buses are needed, Pearlstein said — just not on routes already served by the subways.

An MTA worker closing the Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn for cleaning on May 6, 2020.
An MTA worker closing the Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn for cleaning on May 6, 2020.
Robert Mecea

“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.”

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