MTA to end For Hire Vehicle program at end of the month citing high costs

Photo courtesy of the MTA via Flickr

The MTA is ending its temporary For Hire Vehicle (FHV) program, leaving New Yorkers without an option for overnight public transportation.

The program will end effective Aug. 30 at 5 a.m. The MTA cited high costs and the fiscal crisis for ceasing operations.

“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.”

The FHV program was launched in May this year as an alternative to overnight subway service, which had been suspended so subway stations and cars could be disinfected and cleaned thoroughly during the pandemic. Since the program began, roughly 1,500 customers have been using the service per night, costing the MTA over $6 million with the average cost per trip being $49.

To assist those who have come to rely on the FHV service, the MTA is adding three more bus routes that mirror the more frequented trips that were taken by FHV program users. 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.

MTA also added three new interborough express options–the B99, the M99 and the Bx99. The B99 connects Midwood in Brooklyn to Midtown West and follows a similar route to the 2 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 4 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.

“New Yorkers need Governor Cuomo to reopen the subway overnight. Nighttime riders from healthcare to hospitality have some of the longest, hardest commutes. To truly come back, New York needs a subway that never sleeps,” Riders Alliance Community Organizer Danna Dennis said in a statement. “Rather than half measures like Essential Connector, the governor needs a solution to keep riders safe and get everyone where they need to go all day, every day. Restoring our 24/7 subway system will go a long way toward this goal and must be done immediately.”