Quinn Grills MTA, Calls Blizzard Breakdown ‘Beyond Shocking’

NEW YORK (CBS New York/AP) — New York City transit officials on Friday acknowledged gross failures in responding to the post-Christmas blizzard, an effort that City Council President Christine Quinn called “beyond shocking.”

PHOTO GALLERIES: Holiday Blizzard Slams East Coast | User-Submitted Pictures

The Council held a hearing on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s slow response to the Dec. 26 storm that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on parts of the city. The hearing, to examine the performance of subways and buses during the storm, was the second in a week on the city’s cleanup failure.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

The snow this week resulted in far fewer transit problems than the blizzard did late last month. So the question remains, why did so much go so wrong then?

Almost immediately, the hearing turned contentious when Quinn blasted Transit Authority President Tom Prendergast for failing to provide written copies of their testimony. Prendergast explained they were overwhelmed by the storm and didn’t have time. Quinn called his explanation “outrageous” and “disrespectful.”

Transit officials admitted that they dropped the ball and failed in their response during the storm. “In the blizzard of Dec. 2010, we did not live up to our standards, while we did many things right, we did somethings that need improvement and we did a number of things extremely poorly,” Prendergast said.

Prendergast acknowledged the MTA did not have a situation room up and running to coordinate efforts among its systems and other city agencies, including the Office of Emergency Management.

“The fact that we failed to call a highest level of alert as soon as we had a blizzard was a serious failure on our part,” Prendergast admitted. “Once we knew that a blizzard was upon us we should’ve formally notified and made the decision to go to a plan four which we did not do for almost 19 hours.”

Quinn lost her temper and called the MTA’s response “ridiculous” and “beyond shocking.” “Blizzards don’t happen every week, but it’s not like a swarm of locusts came into New York City, something we have never seen before — it snows here!”

MTA officials said they had been lulled into a false sense of security by weather reports leading up to the blizzard and ended up sending out hundreds of buses into service — many of them under equipped for snow duty — to service shoppers on the busy Christmas holiday weekend.

Darryl Irick, head of the MTA’s bus division, said about 450 buses were on the road when the storm hit and more than 100 were added as the snow fell.    “We did have a breakdown in communication,” said Irick, referring to a lack of information being passed among agencies and to those operating buses and subways.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg with an update from the hearing

The chairman of the council’s transportation committee, James Vacca, pointed out that 1,000 buses were stuck in the snow. He said passengers on an A subway train were stranded for seven hours after the train grounded to a halt in Brooklyn.

 “I sit here feeling more worried about the future of the mass transit system to deal with a snowstorm than I was during the snowstorm watching 650 to 1,000 buses be stuck in the snow,” Quinn said.

Vacca said commuters’ patience is growing thin over bad service. He said the MTA’s response to the snow emergency was among the slowest in decades.

Commuters’ frustrations grew after they learned that they would not be receiving MetroCard refunds for service disruptions during the major storm while also dealing with a fare hike. “It’s unfair to New Yorkers,” Harry Taggert, of Bensonhurst, said. “Service is bad. Everything is bad and look what happened in the snowstorm. Now they’re gonna raise it another quarter?”

The strife doesn’t end there. The MTA’s ongoing $11.2 billion capital construction project will disrupt service this weekend on 16 subway lines. That includes the beginning of a long-term rehabilitation project on the F and G lines, which is scheduled to continue through the spring of 2012.

Prior to the hearing, members of the TWU, the union which represents MTA workers, said that they did all they could to help out the residents New York City. The blame the MTA management and budget woes saying the agency refuses to spend the money necessary to get the city through this crisis and keep the system running.

Members of the union said the MTA needs to answer to the people.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. KPMc says:

    No… the reason Bloomberg got a third term was because a majority of the people who did vote, voted for him.

    No matter what the city council does we already have a system in place for preventing one politician from staying in office too long. It’s called your vote.

  2. Jay Walders says:

    Your wife told me otherwise, last nite.

  3. al sullivan says:

    Why on earth does anybody listen to Quinn. Even when she’s on the right side of an issue, it is purely political — she seeking to become mayor as Bloomberg’s puppet? I guess she wants to pretend like she isn’t and so has to rant and rave about something she probably doesn’t really care about at all

    1. Jose Luna says:

      Al do I have your vote?

  4. Jose Luna says:

    I just want to add the fact that they have this stupid circus show for the public to see is such a waste of taxpayers money. Who gives a rats ass as to who dropped the ball. We all know you all did a horrible job as did the Mayor of NYC and I wonder if these fare and toll increases has anything to do with the proposal the mayor had a few years ago to charge tolls inside the city limits. Everything that has been happening with this mayor is a joke. But again the circus must continue so lets continue to waste the tax payers money and make them believe like this media show is going to have results. If it were up to me, I would bend them all over pull down their pants to their knees and give them all a good spank for messing up then I would send them to their rooms to think about what they just did. That is just me, maybe I should run for Mayor of NYC… Would any of you vote for me?

  5. Fruit says:

    To me it seems that the MTA was slow to respond to the blizzard because it was the day after Christmas, part of a long holiday weekend. Management was home taking it easy instead of preparing an appropriate response to keep essential services operational.
    In my line of work (not transportation) management was on the phone all day Sunday in preparation for the blizzard to ensure that essential personnel and operations were uninterrupted.
    These guys just admitted that they didn’t go to “plan four” until 19 hours after the storm began just shows that they dropped the ball. Clearly, they were too busy enjoying the holidays and just didn’t want to put in the effort required. That would be great except that they chose a profession where they don’t have that luxury.
    Lemme tell ya, these guys are lucky they aren’t private sector because their poor performance would not have been tolerated. Gotta love bureaucrats.

  6. Ophelia Roydz says:

    I smell doo doo! And there’s not a plow or a shovel to be found!

  7. The Truth says:

    Fire everyone. Break the MTA up and go back to separate lines like it use to be. Get rid of Unions and Pensions. Go to 401K’s and there will be plenty of money

  8. Jake says:

    We should hire flocks of turkeys to eat all the snow during future blizzards. We should also make sure there are no snowstorms during a holiday weekend. Turkeys like to relax, too.

  9. Larry Schwarz says:

    The MTA should iextend unlimited ride metrocards for the time period that service was disrupted.OK,They were caught offguard by this major storm,but its not the fault of passengers who purchased their cards in good faith.The MTA extending unlimited ride metrocards by one or two days is not unreasonable,but they are unreasonable if they dont do so.

  10. James says:

    They’ll say, oh MTA don’t have the budget, we gotta do another fare hike to get our ppl shoveling

  11. midi-man says:

    maybe Mayor mike can give them more money at the MTA. This will fix everything. NOT!

  12. Jose Luna says:

    Devenio although I am sure we could have a loving conversation about how wrong we both are the fact still remains that people like me need to complain and you better believe that if anyone ever organized anything to show in force how displeased we all are, I would be right up there along with the 80 New Yorkers I employ. I personally do not have any problem paying any amount of money to cross any bridge, but why is it that every year since 2009 the MTA is in such a deficit that they didn’t see this coming. I would think the MTA is just like any other corporation with a CFO or people within their accounting office to insure that this type stuff just doesn’t happen! Now this is my opinion for every corporation that has required a handout from the government. If you ask me any organization who is obligated to provide a service for the community should take many factors in before requiring an increase including the financial impact it could have on any one community. So with that I bid you a great weekend!

    1. OJ says:

      I completely agree with Jose. From the money sucking unions to the money sucking managers of both the MTA and the Sanitation dept, Something needs to be done. I especially love how TWU are blaming the economy for this entire fiasco. Bottom line is that city and company budgets should always take in to account emergency situations, and to also adjust their spending based on their income rate. I see no reason for all the numerous fare hikes, within a 2 year span. All that tells me is that unions are extremely greedy, and the budget committee members probably never finished grade school, to learn basic math.

  13. Devenio says:

    …and once again Mr. Luna – Might I suggest Mapquest. I’m sure you can find 8 or 9 other ways to get to work without having to pay.

    1. Jose Luna says:

      Those other routes are just as bad (road conditions) with more traffic so do me and yourself a favor before you make any suggestions think about how stupid you sound!

  14. Devenio says:

    The MTA broke done during the blizzard because the City didn’t get the streets plowed. Nothing more, nothing less. You can’t run buses on unplowed streets. You can’t get to stalled trains if the streets aren’t plowed. Please City Council. craw back under the rock you came from and STFU!

    1. jack katchum says:

      I fully agree! It’s all politics. Christine Quinn was promised that she will receive Bloomberg’s endorsement for Mayor because she backed down on term limits. Now she must, not only keep her name and face in front of the voters but also PROVE that’s she’s worthy and capable of being the next Mayor – NOT!

  15. JOE says:

    i stopped taking metro north-SAVING A TON OF MONEY

  16. CT says:

    What went wrong was the MTA jacking up the fare while not improving the services. Not receiving refund for the stranded trip was nothing to compare with the permanent fare hike. $13 to cross the Verrazano bridge is a big dent in any working man’s pocket. I’m not even paid that much an hour.

    1. Devenio says:

      Then why are you driving? Ever heard of Public Transportation? If you can afford to drive to work, you can afford a $13 toll.

  17. Himmy says:

    MTA riders who were stuck on train should find a legal representation and
    file a complaint.

    If you kept that MTA card you used during the Blizzard, they (MTA) can look at the logs when you entered the station and what line was running out of that MTA Station.

    Complaint should state there no efforts to address
    (1) no proper bathroom facilities
    (2) no heat

    MTA was so lucky no one died on the MTA subways during the Blizzard of 2010

    1. James says:

      Yeah I got a friend calling that she used her monthly and then the next day was the blizzard, and didn’t use a whole week of metrocard because of the Q train. She called mta about it, what happened? That’s your fault, sorry we don’t credit for natural disaster like this blizzard

  18. Himmy says:

    MTA riders who stuck on train should find a legal representation and protest the condition.

    (1) no proper bath facilities
    (2) no heat

    MTA was so lucky no died on the MTA subways during the Blizzard of 2010

  19. Jose Luna says:

    Since New Yorkers are so dependable on the MTA and nobody truly will stand up to them, they will continue to do whatever they feel like doing by raising the fare and raising the tolls on these disgusting bridges of theirs that are always in construction. Just look at the condition of the roadway approaching the Robert Kennedy Bridge (AKA The Triboro Bridge) I am always afraid of getting a flat tire with the amount of holes in the road. But oh well, what can we do except bend over and take it in the rear! NEW YORK belongs to the MTA and we will never unite, stand together and fight for whats right, even if it means having to buy less food for our children, or having to foreclose our our homes because (sorry for the typo) we just simply cant afford all the increases that really hurt our bottom line! I have 2 words for the MTA and for every other organization that has been given a green light to steal from the general public including all these disgusting politicians our of country F%^K YOU!

  20. Jose Luna says:

    Since New Yorkers are so dependable on the MTA and nobody truly will stand up to them, they will continue to do whatever they feel like doing by raising the fare and raising the tolls on these disgusting bridges of theirs that are always in construction. Just look at the condition of the roadway approaching the Robert Kennedy Bridge (AKA The Triboro Bridge) I am always afraid of getting a flat tire with the amount of holes in the road. But oh well, what can we do except bend over and take it in the rear! NEW YORK belongs to the MTA and we will never unite, stand together and fight for whats right, even if it means having to buy less food for our children, or having to foreclose our our homes before we just simply cant afford all the increases that really hurt our bottom line! I have 2 words for the MTA and for every other organization that has been given a green light to steal from the general public including all these disgusting politicians our of country F%^K YOU!

    1. Devenio says:

      Here’s a thought: If you don’t like the MTA, don’t use the MTA.

      1. Tojo says:

        That’s a stupid response. The MTA is there to SERVE the public, not the other way around. If we the citiens don’t like it. THEY HAVE TO CHANGE..

      2. Jose Luna says:

        I am not that easily bothered by the ignorance in people like Devenio, clearly you dumb F%^K, I have no choice but to use their bridges and tunnels since my line of works calls for it and many people in the five boroughs use the trains and the bridges to get to work. I should also remind you that these same people keep this city going in more ways than you could ever comprehend. Here is a thought since you clearly enjoy biting of the hand the feeds you, in other words stabbing the people who keep this city running in the back why dont you take the lead and bend over for all of us. I am sure you would enjoy that the most!

      3. Devenio says:

        The MTA is not here to serve you idiot. The MTA is here to serve the business of NYC. Do you really think your little $2.50 is keeping the MTA running?

      4. drabsny says:

        Yeah, OK. You go ahead and walk home in this cold! Stupid people like you really bother me!

    2. Devenio says:

      Wow, Jose. Clearly you are a fool if you think you have to use the MTA Bridges and Tunnels. First for every bridge or tunnel that the MTA operates, there is at least 1 other route you can use for free. Second if your “business” forces you to use the MTA then your job should be paying for the tolls. If not then you are more fool than thought. So back to my original suggestion: If you don’t like the MTA, find some other way to get around or stop fricken complaining.

      1. Jose Luna says:

        Well Mr. Devenio since you have all the answers and your such a smart GPS, why don’t come and work for me so you can be sure that I reimburse myself for all these tolls. Now in my original comment Mr. Smart Ass, I stated the problem was that they keep increasing these tolls and fares but we do not get anything improved with the increase (thus the roads being full of potholes) and I also mentioned there are thousands of people who do rely on the trains and buses and have no choice but to use them everyday to get to and from work. Now what are these poor people suppose to do ride their bikes into the city? I will stick with my original thought and have you lead the line in bending over since this is clearly the right position for you to be in!

      2. Devenio says:

        Once again for the cheap seats… If you don’t like the MTA, don’t use the MTA. Maybe get a bike. Try jogging. Take a pony ride. Get a Pogo Stick. Its not the poor people I’m talking to here Mr. Luna. Its the complainers. Now if you understood how the MTA worked you would realize that although Bridges and Tunnels operates at a surplus each and every year, they must give all such funds over to MTA HQ so they can phuck it up. B&T for the longest couldn’t fix its roadways because of the Fraud Waste and Abuse at HQ. They are finally getting things done but for some reason we need a 2nd Ave subway so guess what…

      3. Jose Luna says:

        Since you assume the $2.50 of any one individual (Multiplied by hundreds of thousands daily) will not go far, why don’t I stop using the bridge for just one day so I can afford buying you a big jar of Vaseline so it will make what you clearly enjoy (Taking in the backside bareback) much easier! Let me know where to mail you this wonderful gift on behalf of all the loving men and woman of NYC!

      4. nan says:

        that’s why US is going to become a 3rd world country just because of those ignorant people, like Devenio!!!!

  21. Jimmy says:

    Oh, just now they’re beginning to realize that the MTA is a mess.

    1. Devenio says:

      Thank you! I’ve always wanted to live in a 3rd world country. What you people don’t seem to get is all I;m saying is: If you don’t like the MTA, then don’t use the MTA. No one is forcing you to ride the train. If all you are going to do is complain about the MTA this please STFU and do something about it!!!

      1. nan says:

        Mr.Devenio, the point is we dont have choice, and we need to rely on this stupid subway system. why we have to pay the hike fare and the extra tax for a non-improving transportation system? if u want to live in a 3rd world country, go ahead, and please dont make those irresponsible comments because you dont need to—-comment the issue of a country that you dont belong to!

    2. Jay MTA says:

      They need to replace the Chairman and all of his cronies and start to peel back all the layers of incompetence.They don’t seem to be financially unstable when it comes to hiring more management and giving themselves hefty raises and the golden parachute that Walder has if he gets fired

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