Mass Transit Shutdown Leaves New Yorkers Few Travel Options

The MTA will institute an unprecedented system-wide shutdown this weekend ahead of Hurricane Irene. Transportation options will be limited —  severely limited. It's best to find a safe place and stay put, but here are options available if travel is a must.

Taxis: If drivers are available, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, taxis will be operating on a zone-fare plan, to make rides less expensive in taxis, encourage group rides and permit livery drivers to make street pick-ups.

“It’s the same plan we used during the transit strike of 2005,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “And every little bit helps. And when and if driving conditions become too hazardous, the Taxi and Limousine Commission does have the ability to send text messages to all drivers advising them of that.”

NOTE: The taxi zones on the map below have no correlation to the Evacuation Zones, which also use terms such as "Zone A" and "Zone B"

Town Cars: Many Town Car services will not be operating on Saturday, and most will be closed on Sunday.  Michael Kordonski, president of Dial Car, said he had gotten calls to see if his drivers could go to Washington, D.C., or the Hamptons, but his answer was “No.” He’s planning on staying open on Saturday, but not Sunday. “It’s about the flooding,” he said. “If drivers can’t get through, what’s the point of getting out and driving?”

Eric Estevez, assistant manager of New Day car service, said he had received a lot of calls about weekend service. He plans to be open, but said it will all depend on the drivers. “If they want to come in and work, we’ll be open,” said Estevez.

Ferries: The Staten Island Ferry service may be suspended when wind speeds reach 46 mph. The East River Ferry will also suspend service after rush hour and not operate this weekend. Commuter ferry services operated by the Economic Development Corporation will also stop after Friday’s evening rush hour.

Water Taxi: Due to weather conditions, most water taxi services, including the Hop-On/Hop-Off, will be closed on Saturday and Sunday. The Ikea Water Taxi is expected to operate Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.

Pedicabs: If four-wheels aren’t available on Saturday, three-whiled rickshaws might be an option. Gregg Zukowski, owner of Revolution Rickshaw and a board member of the NYC Pedicab Owners' Association, said he planned on being open until 8 p.m. Saturday. But, he wasn’t sure how many pedicab drivers would show up.

According to Zukowski, high wind and pedicabs don’t really mix. “In precipitation we’re good, but high wind situations we take a beating,” he said. Still, with MTA shut-down, he thinks pedicabs can fill the void, at least temporarily, much like it would in a blackout situation.

Better yet, if you can, stay at home.