The MTA will soon scrap a program offering free taxi rides to stranded late-night workers — even as Governor Andrew Cuomo's overnight subway shutdown continues indefinitely.

The agency has funded for-hire vehicle trips for essential workers and other late-night travelers between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. since May 6th, following the suspension of 24-hour service to disinfect the system and root out homeless New Yorkers.

On Friday, the MTA announced they were killing the program at the end of the month, citing "high costs" during a period of "significant financial challenges."

The MTA said they paid $6 million for the program over the last 15 weeks. Roughly 1,500 customers took advantage of the free rides each night, with an average trip that costs $49, according to the agency. As an alternative, the agency will launch a trio of new overnight bus routes that mirror the most popular overnight trips used by workers.

The MTA is currently contending with a $10 billion deficit, a soaring debt load of $45 billion, and the prospect of further service cuts. Transit officials announced on Tuesday that the agency would resume charging for local buses on August 31st, which they had stopped doing to ensure distance between riders from drivers.

But as some elements of the system return to normal, and as New York reports its lowest coronavirus transmission levels since March, the MTA has offered little clarity about when they plan to resume 24-hour subway service.

"We have a strong indication that the pandemic is ending in that the governor is publishing a book about his performance. That's a tacit acknowledgment that we're in a very different place than we were," said Danny Pearlstein, the policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance. "I don't think we gain anything in terms of safety by keeping the trains closed."

Both Cuomo and the MTA have previously committed to resume overnight service once it is safe to do so. But the governor has also extolled the benefits of the shutdown, describing the cleanliness of the subway, and the lack of overnight homeless riders as something once thought "impossible." MTA CEO Pat Foye has declined to say when, or if, the overnight service will resume.

The absence of a hard deadline has sparked fear among transit advocates that the MTA's 24-hour service, an emblem of the city's transit system for more than a century, could be gone for good.

"Yes, the subway is very shiny now. Yes, it's remarkably empty. But thats not what we want to see," added Pearlstein. "For low-income New Yorkers, primarily New Yorkers of color who are the backbone of the economy, the transit system is their lifeline."

A spokesperson for the MTA and the Governor's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.