1. Home
  2. MTA Essential Service During the Coronavirus Pandemic

MTA Essential Service During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Updated April 5, 2020

We’re operating MTA Essential Service during the COVID-19 pandemic so we can get health-care workers, first responders, and other essential personnel where they need to go. We’re running as much service as we can with the crews who are healthy and available to work, but service on many lines is limited.

Please: If you’re not traveling for work related to an Essential Business, or for urgent personal business like a medical appointment, do not use the subway or take the bus. We need to keep our limited capacity available for people who must travel.

Here's how the New York State on PAUSE executive order defines Essential Businesses.

Service details for Sunday, April 5

Subways and buses

We’re operating with fewer crews, which might change your trip. 

Staten Island Railway service runs hourly. 


We are no longer scheduling shared rides. (You can still travel with a personal care attendant or guest.)

Stay home if your travel is not absolutely necessary. You’ll be helping protect yourself, your family and other New Yorkers. 

Long Island Rail Road

We'll run half-hourly or hourly service on most branches, with strategically added trains during peak travel times.

Metro-North Railroad

We'll begin running a modified schedule on the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven lines, starting Friday, March 27, until further notice. 

About MetroCard refunds and transactions

You can only make MetroCard transactions at MetroCard Vending machines. This helps limit person-to-person contact for our station agents. Reduced-fare cash transactions can still be made at the booth.

We encourage and appreciate your effort to stop the spread of the virus. That said, we do not provide refunds for MetroCards while the transit system continues to operate. Here's more information about remaining time or value on your MetroCard. 

Unlimited-Ride MetroCards 

If you haven’t started using your Unlimited-Ride MetroCard, you can hang on to it and start using it anytime until the expiration date on the back of the card.

If you started using your Unlimited-Ride MetroCard, unfortunately we cannot pause it once it’s been activated. 

Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards 

If you have money left on a Pay-Per-Ride full fare MetroCard, that value will remain on the card until the expiration date on the back of the card. Any value on the card when it expires can be transferred to a new card at no additional cost. Additionally, you can make this transfer at any MetroCard Vending Machine within 30 days of the cards expiration date. You have up to a year after the expiration date on the card to transfer the balance at a booth, a MetroCard Vending Machine or by mailing it in to MetroCard Customer Claims. We don’t provide cash refunds for the remaining value on a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards, we issue a replacement card. 

Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits 

Other than damaged MetroCards and cards covered under the Balance Protection Program, we are unable to resolve any issues you may have with the pre-tax MetroCards you received through programs like WageWorks. To stop receiving a pre-tax MetroCard, you must contact the benefit provider directly to pause or cancel your enrollment.

Updates on our in-person and customer service facilities

As a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, we’re closing some of our in-person facilities. Here’s the latest:



Other changes you should know about

Due to the state's reduction in workforce amid the pandemic, there may be delays in response to FOIL requests.

We’re also not currently processing online applications for our Paratransit Access-a-Ride service. Call us at 877-337-2017 and we’ll handle requests on a case-by-case basis.

Our MetroCard Balance Protection Program is on hold while our staff works remotely.


What we’re doing

The safety of the public and our employees is a top priority for us. Measures we're taking:

  • Continuing our enhanced sanitizing procedures across the system. Trains, stations, and buses are normally cleaned every day and disinfected as needed. Now, we're disinfecting stations and high-touch surfaces—like turnstiles, ticket machines, and handrails—twice a day. Our cleaners are working to disinfect trains, cars, and buses every day, with the entire active service fleet being covered every 72 hours. And Access-A-Ride vehicles are disinfected every day. We're using CDC-endorsed cleaning products. 
  • Sharing information about how to stay healthy. Look for tips in English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Korean throughout the subway, bus, and railroad system. 
  • Extending hours for flu shots for MTA employees. Keeping our workers healthy helps keep you healthy.
  • Adding to our stockpile of hygienic supplies. We have a stockpile of hygienic supplies on hand. Working hand-in-hand with state and federal partners, we're continuing to stock up on essential supplies.
What you can do

We encourage everyone to follow these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid crowds when you can. If you can commute at less busy times, or wait for a less crowded train or bus, do that.
  • If you're experiencing symptoms and have traveled to areas of concern (or have been in contact with someone who has), call ahead to your health-care provider before you go in person. If you need help finding a health-care provider, call 311.

Have a question?

Call the New York Department of Health's coronavirus hotline at 888-364-3065.You'll be able to speak with public health experts in your preferred language.