Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday would not definitively say if he would cut short his upcoming Italian vacation and return home in the event of an Long Island Rail Road strike. He said he leaves an "exceedingly able" staff to run City Hall in his absence.
Asked whether a strike would constitute an emergency that requires his presence, the mayor said, "It depends on the particular dynamics. ... We hope and pray there will not be a strike. And you may get to the deadline, and there may be a mutual extension."
De Blasio said he would monitor how well the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's contingency plans are working if there is a strike.
The eight LIRR workers' unions may strike beginning Sunday if a contract agreement is not reached with the MTA. De Blasio, his family and three aides are to leave Friday for a 10-day tour of Italy, the mayor's ancestral homeland.
Many of the LIRR's 300,000 daily riders commute to the city from Long Island, and city transportation and emergency officials are preparing for an influx for car traffic and clogged roads in Queens and Brooklyn leading into Manhattan.
A strike's effects may be "quite manageable" because the walk-off would take place in late July -- a time when many take vacation -- and because working from home would be an option for many, de Blasio said, speaking at an unrelated news conference in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood.
Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris will be in charge of day-to-day operations when the mayor leaves. De Blasio is to have daily call-ins with his administration. He has said he would interrupt his trip, which includes official visits with Italian government representatives, and fly back to New York in the case of an emergency.
De Blasio on Monday said he will fly coach to Italy. He said he does not have plans to visit Pope Francis, though the mayor called the pope the "No. 1 global voice" in combating inequality and said he hopes the pope will soon schedule a visit to New York City.