NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City returned gradually to life Tuesday, a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted a travel ban and announced the return of mass transit following a blizzard that did far less damage than expected.

A blizzard warning was lifted Tuesday morning for New York City but a winter weather advisory remained through the day.

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As CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn explained on Tuesday afternoon, the forecasted track a day earlier indicated that the storm would set up right off the eastern tip of Long Island. The circulation around the low-pressure system at the center of the storm would have dumped buckets upon buckets of snow in New York City and left feet of snow on the ground.

But the center of the storm shifted 50 miles eastward, and that made all the difference, Quinn reported. As a result, Glendale, Queens topped out at 12.1 inches, LaGuardia Airport 11 inches; Jamaica, Queens 10.1 inches; and Central Park just 9.8 inches. If the blizzard had stayed on the track predicted, the totals of 1 to 2 feet of snow would likely have materialized.

Still, as CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, plows were busy all day in some areas, and Gregory Sheridan of Marine Park, Brooklyn had no complaints.

“The city did a great job for once,” he said.

Sheridan’s neighborhood got nine inches of snow, but as residents started to dig out, they said their streets were clear.

“They’re not as bad as I thought they were going to be,” he said. “The city did a good job when they shut everybody down and told everyone to go in the house.”

In West Brighton on Staten Island, CBS2’s Carrasco reported main and secondary roads being plowed. However, black ice was still a main concern for motorists.

Still, residents were pleased with how fast the plows moved. Last year, residents of Staten Island complained that they had been shafted during snow removal efforts.

“You could hear the plows starting; all night long, they were going. I was out here for about an hour shoveling today; must have seen them come by 10 times,” said William Impellizzeri of West Brighton. “I know de Blasio didn’t want to get in trouble.”

Indeed, Mayor Bill de Blasio was pleased Tuesday with his decision to declare a state of emergency and impose a citywide travel ban – under threat of fines and arrests – the day before.

“To me, it was a no brainer,” the mayor said. “We had to take precautions to keep people safe, and had people not have been off the roads, there would have been a lot of people in danger and probably some people who lost their lives.”

But not everyone was patting the mayor or city workers on the back. With no cars, little snow, and an army of 2,400 plows, many saw no reason why streets would not be spotless everywhere Tuesday the morning – at least in busy Midtown.

“This is the heart of Fifth Avenue. I don’t know – what happened? Where is the Sanitation Department?” one woman told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer, pointing out that two women walking with her both almost fell down. “So you know what? Unfortunately, this is sad.”

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the MTA started phasing in service beginning at and ran its system on a Sunday schedule — about 60 percent capacity. The MTA said subways, buses and the Staten Island Railway will run regular weekday service on Wednesday.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Meget Everett’s subway ride in from Long Island City on the No. 7 train was “very empty.”

There was no snow day at the investment firm she works at in Midtown.

“We decided if it was safe for people to get in that we would go. So here I am,” she said.

Dana Fortini, of Long Island City, was headed home after being stranded in Manhattan by the subway shut down.

“I’m not going to lie, I feel like they were being a bit dramatic because there’s been more snowstorms last year and the subway was still kind of working,” she said.

The mayor’s travel ban for non-emergency vehicles was lifted at 7:30 a.m.

During a late morning news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that despite the less than predicted snow totals, the travel ban was effective in helping sanitation crews clear the roads efficiently.

“This storm was real,” de Blasio said, adding that as a leader he will always err on the side of caution.

Earlier in the morning morning, de Blasio had urged New Yorkers to be careful when venturing out.

“It’s still going to be slippery, if you’re walking around and you’re driving it’s going to be slow going until sanitation fully gets to do its work,” de Blasio told CBS2’s Diane Macedo. “People should take precautions, it does not mean let’s go and be rush-rush. You know, take it easy, be careful, but things will get back to normal.”

The mayor said the city was ready for much worse.

“Obviously places like Boston even Suffolk County, Long Island are getting hit very hard, so we’re blessed here that it wasn’t worse,” de Blasio said. “The good news is now things are going to come back to normal really quickly.”

De Blasio said snow removal and cleanup will most likely last through Wednesday. He said all of the sanitation department’s 2,400 snow clearing equipment was out in full force and crews are still on 12-hour shifts.

Alternate side parking remained suspended Tuesday and will be suspended Wednesday as well. The mayor said he was unsure when garbage and recycling pickup would resume, but it would not be Wednesday.

De Blasio also announced that New York City’s public schools would reopen Wednesday, despite his son Dante’s best efforts to persuade him to leave them closed.

But the city looked like a ghost town early Tuesday, covered in a blanket of snow. The streets around Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan were deserted except for a few individuals clearing the sidewalks.

A lone plow truck rumbled down West 34th Street. But the streets were passable.

By Tuesday afternoon, New York City parks had been reopened, providing residents with opportunities to enjoy the snowfall. For a list of our favorite sledding spots in New York City, click here.

Mayor de Blasio urged caution to those who visit the city’s parks and said anyone who encounters fallen tree branches or other obstructions should call 311 immediately.

Though it wasn’t the monster storm that was predicted, some residents still appreciated the city’s efforts.

Brandon Bhajan, a security guard at a 33rd Street building, said he thinks it’s a good thing that the city prepared New Yorkers for the worst even if it didn’t turn out as bad.

He said the “over-coverage” of the storm allowed people to be ready and prepared.

Most Broadway theaters reopened Tuesday. The Broadway League said all current plays and musicals will be open as scheduled on Tuesday with the exception of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which were both closed as a result of the storm, were to reopen on Wednesday.

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