Holden Glad to See Advice Taken on Subway Closure

Subway CLeaner
A subway cleaner scrubs down a car. Photo from the MTA Instagram.

By Clarissa Sosin

City Council Member Robert Holden (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) today said while he was glad the governor and mayor have taken his advice to shutter the subway system overnight, their hesitance likely cost more lives.

The lawmaker’s comments come following Gov. Cuomo’s announcement that the city would be closing its subways between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. every day to give the MTA a chance to sanitize the cars starting Wednesday, May 6. 

The city will launch what it calls an “Essential Connector” Service to provide free rides using for-hire cars to essential workers who need to commute during those hours, according to the MTA.

The plan is similar to the one Holden proposed with fellow Queens Council members Eric Ulrich, and Peter Koo along with Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx) in an April 15 letter they sent to Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye and NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg. 

City Council Member Bob Holden

“We were ridiculed in statements from the MTA and both the governor and mayor’s offices who said our proposals were not possible, with the MTA actually calling the idea “dumb’,” Holden told QCP. 

In their April 15 letter, the councilmembers pushed for a week-long closure of the subway system for a deep clean followed by nightly closures between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. for disinfection and free for-hire cars for essential workers who needed to get to and from work. 

They said that they believed the subway was the “primary contributor” to the spread of COVID-19 through the city and that these actions were necessary to combat the spread of the virus. 

Their ideas were met with resistance. 

“We make these decisions based on science and facts not because some politicians say so,” Caitlin Girouard, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the New York Post.

In the same article, MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said it was “a dangerous and a terrible idea,” to close down the subways overnight. 

The governor, mayor and MTA could not be reached for this story.

But Holden said Cuomo and de Blasio made the rght call.

“Now they are finally implementing some of these measures that we suggested two weeks ago, so imagine how many more lives could have been saved during that time. But I’m glad to see that the governor and mayor are finally listening,” he said.