Citing high costs amid a historic fiscal crisis, the MTA today announced that its temporary overnight For Hire Vehicle (FHV) program will cease operations, effective August 30, 2020, at 05:00 a.m.
The premium program was launched as an alternative to overnight subway service, which officials suspended so that subway cars and stations could be disinfected and cleaned more thoroughly in the overnight hours during the pandemic. It served a limited number of customers who faced excessively lengthy trips as a result of closing the subway overnight.
To assist those customers impacted by the cessation of the program, the MTA has added a trio of bus routes that largely mirror some of the more frequented trips that overnight FHV program users have been taking since the program launched in May. Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road will also cross-honor fares from stations in NYC during overnight hours when the subway is closed.
“At the height of the pandemic, it was critically important to ensure essential workers who were subway-dependent could get to overnight shifts reliably, and without spending considerably more time on their commute than they were used to,” said Sarah Feinberg, New York City Transit Interim President. “We are proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to stand up a program of this magnitude. Given our significant financial challenges, we are unfortunately no longer able to provide this service to the limited number of people it was serving sporadically, and the even smaller population it was serving regularly. We have recently added three new bus routes – all of which we believe will significantly assist our overnight passengers in this transition.”
Since the program began, roughly 1,500 customers have been using the service per night. The program has cost the MTA over $6 million, with the average cost per trip being $49. The vast majority of those who previously took the subway during the overnight hours have adapted by taking a range of different MTA buses. In addition to running its standard round-the-clock bus routes, the MTA added three new interborough express options–the B99, the M99 and the Bx99. Those routes were designed based on data that riders from the program voluntarily provided when using the service.
The B99 connects Midwood in Brooklyn to Midtown West and follows a similar route to the train. The Bx99 connects the Woodlawn section of the Bronx with Manhattan’s West Village. The route travels on Jerome Avenue and down the east side of Manhattan much like the train does. It then crosses west on 57th Street and travels south to the West Village. The new M99 route runs between East New York, Brooklyn and Hell’s Kitchen, via 14th Street in Manhattan.