Update: Tri-State Area Mass Transportation Shutdown Underway

Cuomo: If Wind Speeds Exceed 60 MPH Expect Bridges To Be Closed All Over

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered a system-wide shutdown of the Metropolitan Transit Authority starting at noon Saturday ahead of Hurricane Irene.


The shutdown includes subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and Access-A-Ride.

The move was prompted by worries about whipping winds for trains and buses above ground and flooding concerns for trains running under rivers through one of 13 tunnels.

“Those tunnels may be flooded and we’re worried a lot about that possibility,” MTA chairman Jay Walder said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports: Residents Worried About Evacuating Without Mass Transit

Friday afternoon, the Long Island Rail Road released a list of the last trains that will operate on Saturday before the shutdown.  You can find that list by clicking here.

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PHOTOS: 11 Worst Hurricanes | Hurricane Irene

“Please do not wait for the last train,” Walder said. “There is simply not capacity for everyone to get on the last train. The sooner the people make decisions to be able the leave the better it will be for everyone.”

Since it takes eight hours to shut the system down, equipment needs to be moved away from expected problem spots so maintenance can be done after the storm.

“Winds of this magnitude will be dropping trees all over parts of our railway so well be positioning equipment for that,” Walder said.

Cuomo also said if wind speeds exceed 60 mph, area bridges will also be closed. Those include the George Washington Bridge, Tappan Zee Bridge, all bridges operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority as well as the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges.

Most riders that spoke with CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey said they understood the need to shut down service.

“I’ve always felt that anything that they can do to protect the riders is the best thing.  I really have no problem with that,” said one man.

“If that’s what the city needs to do, then safety first,” said another man.

However, others on the LIRR were dreading getting into the city Saturday.

“I have to car pool with guys I work with,” Brian Hall of Valley Stream told Hennessey. “It’s just going to be a hassle.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also announced Friday that NJ Transit will stop running at noon Saturday because of the storm. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is also bracing for Irene’s arrival.  The agency will suspend PATH service beginning at noon on Saturday.

“Service will resume as soon as conditions permit.  The system is being closed to passengers so that trains and stations can be secured in advance of the storm, and protected against damage from high winds and water,” the agency said in a statement.

The Port Authority also said it was bringing in extra staffing to deal with the situation at its airports. Heavy duty equipment is being brought in to deal with flooding as well as bottled water, diapers, cots, blankets, pillows and food for any passengers stranded at the airport during the storm.

When it comes to Port Authority-operated tunnels and bridges, the agency says depending on weather conditions, it may put restrictions on certain types of vehicles like tractor-trailers, motorcycles and car-pulled trailers.

What do you think about the mass transit shutdown? Sound off below in our comments section…

  • Willie K

    Wrote the following this morning, but it didn’t get posted. Refuses to post this afternoon. Figure maybe it’s too long, so I’m breaking into two parts.

    Part I: Woke up at 9:30 and the rain seemed to be over for at least a half hour at that point. OK, it’s about 21 hours from the rain’s end until the morning commute. Heard there was no flooding in the tunnels. Trains and buses should be perfectly fine for tomorrow. Indeed, they should be running by this afternoon, at least the buses. That ought to be the expectation the mayor should be pressing on the MTA. Not a blase, “Suspended Until Further Notice.” Not making excuses for them and himself – really this was all about his overreaction to make up for the criticism he received about the snowstorms last winter.

  • Willy

    “Hoping to have limited service by tomorrow morning’s rush”? What kind of system is that? Limited service should have been back early this afternoon and they should be approaching full normal service now. It should be taken for granted that tomorrow’s rush will be normal.

  • Willy K

    There hasn’t been hot water in my apartment since this afternoon. I’m sure an it be an “executive” decision by Con Ed (“Con” is strongly accented) – haven’t been listening to the news; got tired of the nonsense.

  • Willie K

    Well, the rain is finally here – heavy at times but not particularly unusual. The winds haven’t come yet.. Now is the time to start shutting the subways down. As I said before, the Giants and Jets had it right. The plan should have been to shut down at 6pm, explaining to the public that the plan was tentative and might be pushed back or moved up. Announcements on the matter should have been made every three hours. In this case, the shutdown could have been pushed back to 10. That would be plenty safe enough. Of course, at the time of the announcement an explanation should have been provided to the public about how the system would should down (e.g. each line ending at the terminuses in each direction at 10 or starting?).

    Just was walking around my East Village nabe and quite a few bars and restaurants open. In the case of the bars, a really astute mayor would order them closed an hour before the transit shutdown.

    The problem is we don’t have a particularly astute mayor. What we have is one with a big ego, and that’s one of the reasons he took on the lofty subject of education. However, he’s just a good businessman, not an educator or sociologist. Good businessmen produce things and make them work effectively. Bloomberg should have focused on taking over the subway and bus systems in NYC, building new lines and making them work. That’s what effective businessmen do. Leave education to teachers and social workers.

    NYC deserves a world-class subway and bus system, one on a par with Tokyo and other major cities. One that could be an asset during a hurricane – not one whose flaws need to be protected and covered up.

  • JoePiscopo2

    What it really shows is that even with a storm they’ve been monitoring for days and days, nobody really has any precise clue about the final trajectory or the impact and how much property damage it will cause, or what other effects there will be.

    SUCKERS! You are all being played by the governing elite. They tell you to jump and you’re going to say “how high?” Attica! Attica! You’re a bunch of sheeple.

  • Joey Teem

    Shoud be interesting to see how that all turns out . Wow.


  • Jerome

    This is obviously going to have disproportionate impact on Negroes.

    • Let The Games Begin...

      Why…because they can’t swim? Or because they will be shot during the looting?

    • Janet

      Women too.

  • Michael

    Heed the warnig. if they left the subways open and the tunnels flooded, this msg board would be complaining about that.

    Be safe NYC I hope you all make it through this OK

  • Willie K

    Walked around my neighborhood in downtown Manhattan. Rain a little heavy at times, but I could put the umbrella down. Things pretty much going as the weather forecasts predicted on Thursday: Rain starting on Saturday, getting heavy late in the day or night. The Jets and Giants had it right changing their game from 7pm to two in the afternoon. It seems now the forecast has been pushed back to getting heavy around midnight. So why the noon decision to close down the entire transit system? And what exactly does “shut down at noon” mean? If I head over to Union Square right now, can I get a “4” to the Bronx, assuming that it starts in Brooklyn at Utica Avenue at noon? Can I expect clarification on the matter over at the subway station? Ha,ha,ha, ha? Will the station attendant be courteous and polite? Probably not. Knowledgeable about what is going on? Probably not. Oh yeah, I forgot! They did away with the station attendants! Ha,ha, ha, ha! Furthermore, just heard on the radio that mandatory evacuations are set at 5 pm. Eh? The transit system closes down BEFORE the mandatory evacuations? Mr. Mayor, where is your control of the city’s subways and buses? What this shut down demonstrates is the subway and bus system can not handle a light rain.

  • lisa

    Was there shelters in place for those who had no family or friends outside the area of evac, or those who were not financial able to get hotel rooms ?

    • Willie K

      I know the shelter for Battery Park City is Seward Park High School – about a 1.5 – 2 mile walk northeast. Not awful, but far from ideal. I wonder if there are buses transporting those who need it?

  • Jimmie

    No matter what is actually happening Old Bloomie will show his power

  • LISA


    • Ryan


      Prudent evacuation of low-lying areas like Battery Park City, Coney Island and the Rockaways? Smart. Panicking more than a quarter of a million people for a storm that might not even have 40 MPH winds when it hits New York? Stupid.

  • Willie K

    The comments about Tokyo are absolutely right. New York’s subways and buses are disgraceful, and Bloomberg would have been wise to build his legacy on reforming the system and building new subway lines for the future than carrying on with the teachers.
    Funny, but the directions to my nearest evacuation center encourages people to take mass transit. Ha, ha! Instead of mass transit as an asset, the city and state need to cover its ass during a crisis.
    I want Bllomberg and others to get hell for the panic they caused. It is not even raining yet. OK, even if you did have to close the system, wouldn’t you wait until at least Saturday night

  • Cindy Merrill

    Come on up to Northern NY: Taxes are way lower, our school system in franklin County is very good and the quality of life so much better!

    • No thanks

      Te lights turn off after 8pm, no mass transit, fastfood rwstaurants as your only source of fine dining and you can marry your sister!

    • Chu Hyon

      e careful what you wish for. If all the Liberal NY Elites move north, they will bring their cancerous liberal beliefs and life style along.

  • Vote Loud

    Did he ask “People of faith” to stay behind?


  • Eyeball

    Over reaction from government just to cover their arses. Maybe Gov Cuomo will raise NYs taxes to cover the loses.

  • cat on a hot tin roof

    N.Y.C. is a disaster waiting to happen. This week-end will be the ultimate test.

  • Smilin' Bob

    Shut all mass transit right after telling everyone to evacuate? This is an example of corrupt politics on a grand scale…

    It’s very simple… think of the amount of money that will be saved by shutting mass transit for 2-3 days. I would assume it would be in the hundreds of millions. Since when do you make it harder for people to go on with their lives which go on regardless of the elements. The inept carelessness of Bloomberg during the snow emergency is now one-upped by this arrogant act against working people. I guess we should all stay home and watch a DVD of a broadway show !!!

  • Phil Reese

    I find it a little disconcerting when I hear the media cheerleading Hurricane Irene. Hurricanes cause a lot of damage and have been known to kill. With every hurricane we also get Geraldo chained to a light standard doing a live remote. Who needs to see that?

    • Barry bin Inhalin

      Was just saying last night that I don’t need to see Geraldo – and his history of reporting on Hurri’s. For that matter, why is the media allowed to stand on beaches/boardwalks ‘reporting’ that it’s raining and the wind is blowing? Come on – most of these turkeys can’t walk and chew gum, so why is it ‘safe’ for them to do but not safe for us? Storms are dangerous but the bottom line is if you don’t mind getting wet or some wind, life goes on.

  • krmckeon

    This is most definitely hype. My family has lived on a small island off the coast of NJ for a 100 years and rarely evacuated. When they did, it was later found to be unnecessary. I’m sorry, but Obama and Bloomberg are not going to convince me that this is the worst storm in over a 100 years.

    There is going to be more harm done in the panic created by these two jokers and the media.

  • Phil Reese

    Here on the west coast we are prepared. We misjudged Katrina and had to pause the DVR to go out for more beer,steaks charcoal etc. We are ready for a great show and hope that Irene doesn’t peter out.



      • Derick Chan


    • New York Transit worker


      • New York Transit worker.

        You’re all morons.

  • blorjr

    How will obama’s base go shopping once the power is knocked out if there is no subways.

    • hello

      what does thus article have to do with obama?

      • krmckeon

        It has a lot to do with Obama. he went on TV this morning and started a panic, no doubt part of a political game.

    • Marc Kortlander

      shopping? don’t you mean shoplifting?

      • Jane Louise Smith

        “shopping” = shoplifting = looting = flash mobs = Euro-style riots = Arab Spring in America

  • Ken

    I travel every year to Tokyo, and can tell you that their public tranportation systems (trains, subways, busses, airports) are so much better than ours, they put ours to shame. Even the day of their earthquake, after a few hours, the trains were back running, despite the fact that many of them run on elevated tracks.

    When I return to New York, from the moment I arrive at JFK, or step into a bus or subway, I feel like I am entering a toilet. Our public “services” are run for the benefit of the employees, not the public. Why do we accept such a lousy system from our politicians? Where is the accountability?

    • Sigmund

      I was in Sapporo, Japan recently. You are absolutely correct that their public transportation puts ours to shame. and arriving at JFK and then taking a dingy yellow cab was a lot like stepping into a toilet.

      • Sara Edward

        I visited Thailand a few years ago and was equally surprised as the two of you about the difference in the conditions of mass trans.

        NYC can use a good washing. The hurricane might be good for that. I cannot believe how much it smells like urine everywhere you go there now. It didn’t used to be like that…what the hell is going on over there?

    • Melissa

      The systems in Tokyo are better simply because the people are not animals like they are in NYC.

  • Mark

    Seriously…it’s a storm…grow some and deal with it!! If you want real severe weather come to Texas where we deal with storms worse than this during two full seasons of the year, without two weeks’ warning!! ever hear of this cool thing called a tornado…and yes, this comment is dripping with disdain…only because the media and the people are so timid with a storm coming…

    • Sam

      we’re not used to it here…. we’ve had tornadoes too, and we have a lot of very tall and vulnerable buildings in a very small area. we also have one of the most extensive mass transit systems in the country that millions of people rely on every day, so yes this is a serious situation and its severe for US. mind your business.

    • sun_god7

      This is serious for NYC because that system was not built for hurricanes and influxes of sea water.

      It could paralyze the system and the national economy. Wall Street is based in NYC.

      • Doctor Bendova

        Let’s hope it is severe enough to cause all the bankers, lawyers and politicians to leap from the tallest buildings in grief… Time to start over…

  • IgnoranteElephante

    This is how the politicians put themselves before us. Will the storm be bad? No one can say for certain. It is illogical to have “unprecedented” shut downs and evacuations a day or days before the storm. You warn people and provide extra government services, not less services. Will it be burdensome for the government? Of course, it will, but that’s why they govern. They chose this life.

    A lot of politicians, including the HJIC Bloomberg, took a beating in the public opinion polls after the big Christmas snow storm, so, now, we all must suffer so they look like heroes. There’s a reason there is no precedent for such behavior.

    • Jane Louise Smith

      Does “HJIC” = “Head Joker In Charge”? I only ask because I’ve never seen that acronym before your post.

      • IgnoranteElephante

        Sort of.

  • kevin

    How stupid are these officials it’s unreal to think how mindless they really are shut down the whole MTA system for a storm that won’t hit until sunday why do people always over react. i can tell you this MTA system won’t be back up till monday and a lot of people that need to go to work will have a problem. The storm is going to be a huge bust.

  • Christopher Burgis

    Thousands of New Yorkers will still be required to go to work on Saturday. many will be required to work well past the time that the MTA shuts down. Now they will be forced to WALK out of the city in the driving rain unless they are rich enough to afford a cab.. If the Subway & Buses shut down then Bloomberg needs to tell all businesses, includingunion and non-union Hotels, that they must shut down all operations and release all employees by 11am so that employees may catch the last train or bus home!!!

  • Marc Kortlander

    talk about over reacting!
    the storm has already blown by here and we had small rain showers and some high winds, nothing catastrophic, by the time it gets up there you’ll have some rain and wind and some minor beach area flooding.
    the sky is not falling
    don’t panic!

    • RuhRoh

      Panic and drama are the order of the day here. A gnat has some flatulence and the citizens of NY think the ghost of OBL is here to exact a toll. I’ve lived in many places, places with high winds on occasion and NEVER have I seen such hand wringing as I have seen here. Shutting down the entire transit system and no contingency for a fairly car-less populace is going to be interesting to say the least. I can’t wait to get out of this town…

  • HPS

    This could be devastating this is why COMMON SENSE should tell everyone from employers to employees that having so many businesses to high rises in ONE area is NOT a good plan.. As someone who moved out of CHICAGO for the suburbs I know how storms can effect a densely populated area.. from food shortages to FLYING objects from high rises.. Chicago can have some HIGH winds on a normal basis.. the ONLY thing you can do is hanker down and wait it out.. DON’T go anywhere.. the poster with the information on the land line.. good advise.. I have a land line however I did not know you had to unplug the cordless.. it’s time to REMEMBER what it is your grandparents did.. and if the NY populace is anything like the CHICAGO populace being prepared at ALL times is NOT in the books.. it’s live by your coat tails.. which is why I am more comfortable living OUTSIDE the city now.. I was one of those be prepared types that didn’t fit in.. the most I had to go to the store for when there was a impending storm was ICE CREAM.. and snacks.. People who live in high rises should remember IF the electric goes out there generally is NO elevators.. it’s going to be a rough few days.. my prayers are with you..

  • texangirl

    Don’t go in on Saturday for work, unless you plan on helping to shut everything down and secure everything. Seriously, this is not like ya’ll’s snow storms nor is this the hurricane drink. Go west for a mini vacation until Irene runs her course. If you have to stay, seek higher ground and stay as far away from the windows as possible. For reference, google “damage done by Ike in Houston”.

  • NY Verizon tech


    Keep an old wired telephone handy if you use a cordless phone in your home. In the event of loss of power cordless phones will lock a line “off hook” once the “Talk” button is pressed. You only have to unplug that wireless phone from the telephone jack and the line will be restored. Then replace the cordless witht he old wired phone until power is restored.

    • susan

      good idea, except for those of us with fios. What should we do?

      • Ny Verizon Tech

        Fios will hold up better than copper under storms. Fiber is passive while copper has current. The only drawback w Fios is that once you lose power you only have that back up battery to keep the dialtone up. The battery should hold for 4-8 hours. Unplug you cable box if you have fios to minimize the drain on the battery, and maybe the router unless you feel you really need the internet. If you have any batteries from motorized childrens vehicles that are the same voltage charge them up. Some of them are the same as the battery in the fios back up.

        Again I can’t stress enough how important an old wired phone is during a calamity. Those cordless phones will kill phone service to your entire home (for that one line) if you hit that “talk” button while the power is out.



    • Jane Louise Smith

      Thanks for the tip, NY Verizon tech, but aren’t you supposed to be on strike or something? Thank you. ~~ Jane Louise Smith, Founder & CEO, 8/23-8/26 East Coast Natural Disaster Victims’ Relief Fund & Memorial Foundation for Nature’s Human Martyrs, Their Survivors, and Their Pets, Inc., LLC. 503(c)17[iii.]2{L}

      • Ny Verizon Tech

        Thanks Jane Louise,

        Verizon admitted that their management team could not get the work done and if the Union came back to work we would get everything we wanted. It pays to fight for your rights.

      • Bob

        Wrong Verizon employees went back to work because they were only getting around 2-300.00 dollars a week in strike pay from the union and the employees were going to have to pay their own benefits. Basically the union doesn’t have the strength to keep them out on strike, so although the union hasn’t lost yet it will shortly.

    • KPMc


      You couldn’t be more wrong. The managers had no idea what they were doing and the supposed contractor workforce they were ready to deploy was non-existant.

      I see you have a problem with unions that prevents you from thinking rationally but get your facts straight before you open your hot-air blower.

  • Rich

    Does the closures of the bridges work in the same manner, over a period of time? I am going to be in westchester and going home to queens in the mid afternoon.

    • Jane Louise Smith

      Good luck, Rich. We’ll be reading about you as a casualty of the hurricane. Thank you. ~~ Jane Louise Smith, Founder & CEO, 8/23 East Coast Natural Disaster Victims’ Relief Fund & Memorial Foundation for Nature’s Human Martyrs and Their Survivors, Inc. LLC 503(c)17

  • Gina

    What part of of the severity of this strom are you not getting?

  • Wells

    Dear Gerarg Metoyer:

    I am out of work.
    May I please be named as your Beneficiary?
    Thank you in advance.



    • Mia

      Unless you are a Doctor, Nurse, Police Officer, Fire Fighter, you should not have to go to work tomorrow because of the storm that is coming. Stay Home!!

    • Billy

      it takes 8 hours to shut everything down. storm comes in Saturday evening + shut down start at 12 PM = common sense. You see where I am going with this?

    • Jane Louise Smith

      Really? People are going to work with a Category 3 hurricane bearing down on their homes & places of employment? How logical is that? Thank you. ~~ Jane Louise Smith, Founder & CEO, 8/23 East Coast Natural Disaster Victims’ Relief Fund & Memorial Foundation for Nature’s Human Martyrs and Their Survivors, Inc. LLC 503(c)17

    • Xavier

      …then feel free to leave now…or better yet, leave Sunday….perhaps Irene can give you a lift.

    • Derick Chan

      notice how im 12 years old and im more mature than you. and accurate. it hits around 2 PM

      • Jane Louise Smith

        Derick Chan, you must be 13 years of age or older to contribute to Yahoo! and/or create a Yahoo! account. Have your mom or dad read the Terms Of Service. Children 13 years of age or younger are not permitted to have Yahoo! accounts. Take note. Thank you. ~~ Jane Louise Smith, Founder & CEO, 8/23-8/27 East Coast Earthquake and Hurricane Irene Victims’ Relief Fund & Honorary Memorial Foundation for Nature’s Human Martyrs in America, Their Survivors, and Their Pets, Inc., L.L.C. A 503(c)17[iii.]2{L}

  • All Hazards

    Lots of information going out on twitter and other social media about Irene. Ongoing list of tools and sources is being kept at http://allhazards.blogspot.com/2011/08/hurricane-irene-resources.html .

  • Derick Chan

    Yeah dude, i think your insane to even ATTEMPT to think about your trip. stay home and try not to go outside. at all.

  • DianaF

    Gerard, I think you have to cancel your Sunday afternoon visit to NYC and stay home that day.

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