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MTA snow storm response under review after shutdown

The MTA has warned of transit changes during

The MTA has warned of transit changes during the snow storm. Photo Credit: Flickr / vogelium

The MTA is looking into its last-minute decision late Monday afternoon to shut down mass transit in anticipation of the snow storm that fizzled in the city.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said that the review of its storm procedures could include plans for running only underground subways during blizzards.

"With regard to calls or proposals to see whether or not we would run service underground, that's something we'll look into," he said.

MTA CEO and chairman Tom Prendergast on Thursday defended the call to suspend all subways, buses and commuter rails at 11 p.m. Monday before forecasts that called for 2 to4 inches of snow an hour and more than 50 mph wind gusts. He told lawmakers at a state Senate hearing that a December 2010 storm had stranded subway riders and caused hundreds of buses to get stuck in city streets.

"We're accountable to making sure they're safe and secure," Prendergast told state senators at a hearing in Albany.

Prendergast said in his testimony that the MTA's review was underway to see where improvements in snow storm preparations could be made.

Lawmakers from the city pressed Prendergast on the historic decision to close the system for a snowstorm, instead of letting trains run underground and limiting service where subways are exposed to the elements. Before the call to shut down transit, subways were expected to run on local lines so trains could be stored on underground express tracks. The last transit shutdown occurred during storms Irene and Sandy.

Sen. Diane Savino, who represents Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, seemed incredulous at the idea of stopping subway and bus service when transit was in operation during past snow storms and blizzards. She said the decision challenges New Yorkers' expectation that the subway is reliable in most bad weather and runs round-the-clock.

"Never did we shut down the system," she said of past blizzards. "The entire system? Was it necessary?"


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