Late-night riders of the No. 4, 5 and 6 train have their subway back starting Friday after the MTA shut it down overnight for four days this week.
No trains ran from Grand Central to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Monday through Thursday so work crews could make repairs without standing aside for train traffic.
Department of Subways Head Carmen Bianco said the shutdown, the first of its kind for the subway, allowed 900 workers to descend on 15 stations each night and fix and clean over three miles of station track.
In the wee hours of Friday morning, he stood on a station platform looking down on gangs of workers busily banging on railroad ties, scraping muck and collecting debris.
He described some of the work getting done: "Repairing the track, putting down new rails, changing out a track switch, upgrading station lighting, painting, working on elevators and escalators."
But one level up in the station, behind yellow tape that prevented access to the line, not all riders were prepared to lose their service.
Anais Pineda was out in Manhattan with her husband Jose celebrating their third wedding anniversary when they discovered, after midnight, there was no No. 5 train from Union Station to their apartment in the South Bronx.
"Now we have to take the R to 59th Street when we could've just taken the 5 straight home, which is a little inconvenient," she said. The couple estimated the shutdown would add a half hour to their trip.
Bianco said he sympathized with riders before pointing out that crews can do many times more work than normal during a shutdown without interference from passing trains, which gives riders more reliable service overall.
The MTA is planning to shut down the same stretch of line a total of four times this year. It will also expand the program — called Fast Track — to the 6th, 7th, and 8th Avenue lines, mainly in Manhattan, where it says straphangers have other ways of getting around.
Read more on Transportation Nation, a site that combines the work of public radio newsrooms and our listeners as the way we build, rebuild and get around the nation changes.