Unprecedented Northeast Transit Shutdown as Sandy Approaches

Sommer Mathis writes about the largest planned shutdown ever of train and bus service in the U.S. as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. cancel service on the eve of Hurricane Sandy's arrival along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

Mathis writes that Sandy has "been called the largest tropical cyclone ever" and cities are not sparing any precautions.

The mid-Atlantic cities had shut down their transit agencies by 10pm, Sunday, Oct. 28., "marking the first time in U.S. history such widespread public transportation service suspensions have been announced before the serious part of a storm has even begun."

Note the photos of the vacant Grand Central Terminal in mid-town Manhattan and Times Square subway station on the eve of the approaching storm.

"The closures don't stop with transit. School districts from Virginia to Boston have cancelled classes. The federal government in Washington is closed. The New York Stock Exchange will take a rare day off from trading after Mayor Michael Bloomberg imposed mandatory evacuation zones on parts of Lower Manhattan and Staten Island."

The New York Times reported Monday morning that "New York went into emergency mode, ordering the evacuations of more than 370,000 people in low-lying communities from Coney Island in Brooklyn to Battery Park City in Manhattan "

New York City last shut-down its subway on Aut. 27, 2011 in advance of Hurricane Irene. As Planetizen noted, most lines, including commuter railroads restored service by August 29. Among the last to restore service were branches of Metro-North Railroad and New Jersey Transit.

Thanks to The Atlantic Cities

Full Story: Hurricane Sandy Provokes the Largest Preemptive Public Transportation Shutdown in U.S. History



Irvin Dawid's picture

NYT on Irene vs. Sandy re. subway shutdown

Matt Flegenheimer provides a 'Sandy' update as of 11:27AM on: "Disabling a Mass Transit System, Step by Step": "But while the shutdown before Tropical Storm Irene last year began at noon on a Saturday — and the restoration of subway service began before the Monday workday — the suspension of subway, bus, and railroad service this time could prove particularly disruptive for the region."

Yet, the prognosis doesn't appear to be in line for a true "Frankenstorm", as Sandy has come to be known.

"Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, suggested the city could be without the bulk of its transit system for two full weekdays. By Wednesday, he hoped, some service might be restored.

Though Mr. Lhota expressed optimism about restoring service by Wednesday, a return to normal operations is likely to come in fits and starts. A little over 24 hours after subway, bus, and rail service was suspended for Tropical Storm Irene, some limited bus service returned. About 14 hours after that, the restoration of subway service began. Railroad service was restored on a line by line basis, as some required substantial cleanup of debris and mudslides and others waited on power to be restored."

I suspect that the real damage will come to the commuter railroads serving all the 'leafy' suburbs that will see lines disrupted due to falling trees on track beds that subway tunnels do not experience.

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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