Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cuomo Decision To Shut Down Subway For Snow - First Time Ever - Criticized As "Horrible, Political Decision"

It made no sense to me that Governor Cuomo decided to shut down all of the MTA last night before the blizzard that was forecast to hit.

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.


  1. I agree 100%. Cuomo though he had to flex some muscle to show that he is in charge. That move is backfiring on him and now makes him look like the court jester instead of the king.

  2. If Cuomo can shut down "the failing public schools" , he can shut down the subway system. If Cuomo can shut down the subway system , then he can shut down Preet Bahara. if Cuomo can shut down Preet Bahara, then he can shut shut down the federal government and establish a dictatorship. If Cuomo can make himself dictator of the United States, the he would make his father Mario Cuomo proud of him, may he rest in peace.

    1. It is something like that......that drives Cuomo to act as a sociopath...

  3. Like he did after the Buffalo storm, Cuomo will likely tout his new "state of the art" weather system as the panacea for this. "The weathermen suck, the teachers suck, but I have something better."

  4. Unfortunately, when all is said and done the badly flawed NWS forecast gives everyone an "out" here. They were still predicting 20-30 inches with locally higher amounts in the five boroughs as late as 1:00 this morning.

    The timing of shutting down the subways and the manner in which it was communicated displayed a massive failure to understand the ridership, though. There are more than just a handful of subway riders who aren't on Twitter or a computer all day, I'm guessing. A few don't speak English. And not everyone has a boss who told them to get on out of here early and get home safe.

  5. Indeed, my daughter's boyfriend, a chef, had to walk from the Upper East Side to Corona, Queens last night because our Reptilian Governor again felt the compulsion to show who's dominant...

    1. and that restaurant stayed open so late given the forecast because....?

      I dislike most of Cuomo's policies but this one was certainly not one to waste time criticizing. As a dad. I'd be more concern with whether the chef or the owner decided to stay open so late. Likewise all those non-emergency non critical businesses that kept stayed open given the decision of their elected and legitimate leaders.

    2. So, because some greedy restaurant owners wanted to earn a takeout/deliverywindfall on the backs of their employees, the staff had to pay the price for that, along with Cuomo's compulsion to appear tough and in charge?

      Try not blaming the victims next time.

  6. Did you forget what happened when Bloomberg was out if town and left the decisions to an idiot. People were trapped for hours on a freezing train. Buses were stuck in snow and ambulances couldn't get through. Had we had the predictions claimed, it would have been a disaster. However, Bloomberg would have waited til 7 in the morning to declare schools open.

    1. Actually that issue with the MTA and the stuck trains was addressed by this policy:

      "Four years ago, when a huge winter storm socked New York City, the MTA and then-Gov. David Paterson, in the final few days of his tenure, got unlucky. For the first time in years, two subway trains — an N train in the Sea Beach line and an A train a few hundred yards outside of Howard Beach — were stranded for hours. Snow piled up; trains couldn’t move; lawsuits were filed. It was a political nightmare with the headlines to match. Since then, the MTA has tried to address bad weather events, and they have, by and large, succeeded.

      The agency’s response to this worst-case scenario was to develop plans for various amounts of snow that largely maintained subway service. Generally, in blizzard conditions, all express service is curtailed so Transit can store trains underground, and service along the train lines that operate in open trenches rather than along elevated lines is curtailed. And you know what? It worked! Trains operated throughout most of the city, and no one was stranded in snowstorms. It required employees to clear elevated platforms, but the city could operate largely as normal."

      Read the whole post here:

    2. It's been fascinating NOT hearing about one of Bloomberg's most famous public screwups on TV.

      Thanks for that link Reality-Based.

  7. Marcia Kramer just reported on CBS 2 that Cuomo gave De Blasio a 15-minute heads up on the subway closing.

  8. Caught a few minutes of Channel 1's "The Call." Sadly, most viewers were giving an A to the shutdown, but one at least was unhappy and made the point that it set a precedent for martial law.

  9. cuomo is popey in disguise...he knows better...just when we get rid of a know it all - mikey bloomcraps - we get another in the name of cuomo....omg will the insanity ever end with these cuomo aka popeye wants to have his own weather service by the state.......that will help for sure....