Mass Transit Being Limited Or Suspended Throughout Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In an attempt to keep people off dangerous roads and out of harm’s way as a “potentially historic” winter storm pounded the area, streets were closed all around the Tri-State Area late Monday and mass transit was limited or suspended.

A blizzard warning was in effect for the metropolitan area through midnight Wednesday morning. CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn expected the worst of the snow to begin falling in the overnight hours.

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The snow was expected to fall at a rate of 2 to 4 inches an hour until midday Tuesday, and winds will gust 40 to 60 mph.

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The storm could bury communities in 4 or more feet of snow. Coastal flooding and erosion is also a major threat.

One forecasting model earlier in the day anticipated a grand total of 34.4 inches of snow falling in New York City. More modest models anticipated 17.1 inches. Most estimates have shown the city in the 12- to 24-inch range.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Monday from Sullivan and Ulster counties down south.

Subway service and all other Metropolitan Transportation Authority service was shut down altogether effective at 11 p.m.

Cuomo also said a travel ban will be enforced on all major roads in the southern part of the state. It affects all roads – whether interstate, state, county, city or town – in 13 counties from Ulster and Sullivan on the north to New York City and the two suburban counties of Long Island on the south, Cuomo said. Only emergency vehicles will be allowed on the roads, and those who do not comply will be in trouble, he said.

“This is a serious situation,” Cuomo said. “If you violate this state order, it’s a possible misdemeanor, with fines up to $300, and that will go into effect at 11 o’clock also,” Cuomo said.

He said tractor-trailers are prohibited from traveling on main state roads south of New York State Thruway exit 17.

A ban on non-emergency vehicles in New York City and Long Island after 11 p.m. was issued earlier, officials said.

So when do residents think it will be safe again to hit the roads?

“Thursday probably,” motorist Geo Fernandez told 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis. And he wasn’t kidding. Fernandez took the West Side Highway home and said he had no plans to leave for days.

“Stay home and let the professionals do what they do,” he said.

Ahead of the 11 p.m. shutdown time, the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road ran increased early service to get people home this afternoon, Cuomo said. More from MTA.

PATH service was suspended, and Staten Island Ferry service was also shut down, at 11 p.m. The CitiBike bicycle sharing system was already closed by 7 p.m.

Commuters wait at Penn Station ahead of a massive winter storm  on Jan. 26, 2015. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

NJ TRANSIT commuters pack into Penn Station ahead of a massive winter storm on Jan. 26, 2015. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday night that the entire state of New Jersey would also implement a road travel ban, which also began at 11 p.m. Monday. The ban will be subject to revocation at daybreak depending on conditions, Christie said via Twitter.

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The ban excludes emergency and public safety personnel, utility companies and others involved in assisting with storm preparations.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, a road travel ban was issued even earlier. A vehicular travel ban was placed into effect there effective at 9 p.m.

The roads in Hoboken will be open only to public safety personnel, medical professionals, mass transit operators, and public works and sanitation personnel.

NJ TRANSIT shut down its entire system at 8 p.m. The agency initially said train lines would not be restored until Thursday, but later said trains would be back in service as soon as possible, CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported. More from NJ TRANSIT.

People trying to get home were packing into Penn Station on Monday afternoon.

Some commuters told CBS2’s Schneider they can’t take a shutdown of longer than just one day.

“I understand safety first,” said Jeff Fairbanks, of Princeton, New Jersey. “Nobody needs to lose their life over something like this. But at the same time, it’s been snowing for the better part of ever — forever. To me, it seems a little inappropriate that there’s not a better plan in play to get people where they need to go.”

“It’s OK for me because they closed down the offices,” said Carol Cunningham, of West Orange, New Jersey. “But the fact that there are those who might have to get out and to get to where they need to be, I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

“I have my laptop so I’ll just work from home. I have a lot of work to do so it’s fine, I just don’t want to deal with all this tomorrow,” one commuter told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

Amtrak said it may re-evaluate schedules as conditions warrant and announced the train leaving Penn Station late Monday afternoon for Boston would be the last one to Boston until Wednesday. No trains will run between New York and Boston on Tuesday. More from Amtrak.

NY Waterway offered an early ferry to Belford at 1:15 p.m. Monday and canceled its last two trips. The final ferry left Pier 11 at 6:15 p.m. Seastreak has modified its schedules.

In Westchester County, Bee-Line and ParaTransit buses were suspended starting at 8 p.m. Monday and will not resume service until road conditions improve Wednesday.

Suffolk County transit buses were suspended at 6 p.m.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office also banned travel statewide beginning at 9 p.m.

“People need to take this storm seriously,” Malloy said in a statement. “If current predictions are accurate, we will need people to stay off the roads so that emergency personnel and utility crews can get to the places they need to get to, and to make sure that our plows can keep critical roadways clear.”

Officials are advising motorists to keep an emergency kit in their vehicles. It should include flashlights, a shovel, food, blankets and a cellphone and charger.

The National Weather Service says if a car gets stuck in the snow, drivers should stay remain inside. They are advised to run the engine every 10 minutes to stay warm but to crack open their windows to avoid carbon monoxide exhaust. They should tie a colored cloth to the top to be visible in snowdrifts.

However, all unnecessary travel is discouraged to allow snow removal equipment to clear the roads.

A 45 mph speed restriction is in place on the New Jersey Turnpike from Interchange 4 to 12 in Carteret and on the Garden State Parkway from the Asbury tolls to the New York state line.

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