We've had blizzards before, we'll have them again and NEVER in the history of New York City has the subway system been shut down because of snow.
That's 111 years of snow storms, blizzards and inclement winter weather - and yet, never had the subway system been shut down because of snow, not even during the 1947 blizzard (26.4 inches) or the 2006 blizzard (26.9 inches.)
Until Cuomo did it yesterday.
Except that the system actually didn't shut down because MTA workers had to keep the tracks clear - so they ran empty "ghost trains" all night.
Here's the story:
Subway trains still ran under New York City overnight despite being closed off to commuters.Trains were heard going through a number of stations after services were suspended at 11pm on Monday, surprising travellers as they could not board them.The preemptive decision by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA allegedly shocked transit workers because the trains need to run overnight so they can clear the tracks.It was the first time the entire system has been shutdown purely because of the snow in its 111-year history. The action was taken before the brunt of the snowstorm hit the city.As a result of the state-wide road ban and the early cancellation of public transport, the Subway seemed the only viable way to get around the city through the night.A source told The Brooklyn Paper: 'I think it’s horrible, purely political decision, not based on anything that’s needed. It seemed like cutting out a necessary lifeline unnecessarily.'The underground lifeline should be open.'During a press conference on Monday, Governor Cuomo said: 'This blizzard is forecasted to be one of the worst this region has seen, and we must put safety first and take all the necessary precautions. Commuters and drivers need to get home before the storm completely cripples our transit networks and roads.'Some of the lines on the system - including sections of the B and Q - are low-lying and outdoors, meaning a closure would be necessary.However the remainder is underground or elevated, meaning snow may not have been an issue.
The Brooklyn Paper reported the MTA was caught off guard by Cuomo's decision to close the subways:
A Twitter exchange between a Transportation Authority data scientist and a New York Post reporter appears to corroborate the agency being caught off guard by the governor’s announcement. Shortly before Cuomo’s bombshell, the transit wonk wrote that outdoor portions of the N, A, and Q, lines may be suspended. But when the reporter pointed out Cuomo was saying the plug would be pulled, the worker deferred to public relations.
Later, the data scientist lamented that stranded New Yorkers might resort to loosely regulated services such as Uber to catch now-illegal rides through the storm.
“Not a good plan from the governor,” Samuel Wong wrote. “The startup procedures will be fun.”
Following publication of this article, Wong wrote that the changes meant many workers would have to “stay overnight.”
A purely political decision by the governor to shut down the subway system - and a stupid one.
By all means, close the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels and commuter rails because of a blizzard warning.
But don't close the "lifeline" of the city - the underground and elevated trains that have NEVER been shut because of snow in their 111 year history.
Cuomo wants to look like he's the "Man in Charge," but quite frankly, he is a child who acts impulsively out of fear and impetuousness.
UPDATED - 9:10 AM: This subway shutdown is made even worse when you hear what the snow totals are around the area.
7.8 inches in Central Park.
I get that the models were all over the place before the storm, some showing a lot of snow, some showing very little making it west to the city.
And yes, public safety and precaution matters.
But given the uncertainty of the forecast and given that the subway system has NEVER been shut down for snow in 111 years - not even during two of the worst snowstorms in the history of the city - I think Cuomo's decision to shut it down last night was all about looking like he's in control and charge.