After Irene: Your Morning Commute

Monday, August 29, 2011

WNYC transportation reporter Jim O'Grady discusses the effect the storm has had on this morning's commute. How are you getting to work this morning?


Jim O'Grady

Comments [58]

Lori from Manhattan

Did anyone else have a problem using their unlimited MetroCard on Monday? Mine is set to expire on Sept. 3rd and the machines rejected it as invalid! Same thing happened to several other commuters taking the M15.

Aug. 31 2011 10:23 AM

I am the person who called in about the MTA issuing a 1-day extension to all unlimited card holders.

In no way did I intend to trivialize the serious and dangerous conditions in other parts of the region.

But the topic when I called was: was the shutdown a valid precaution. And the conversation had turned toward: what kind of precedent does this set. The particulars of MTA policy in this regard are a serious issue and I have no idea why Brian Lehrer and others would want to trivialize the point. MTA makes millions of dollars per day based on unlimited card holders. And it is perfectly valid to assume that they would issue a simple extension to their cardholders when they shutdown service for these kinds of precautionary measures.

Thanks and best of luck to everyone working to ensure our community's health and safety.

Aug. 29 2011 12:54 PM
Gregory A. Shuey from Midtown

Fascinating post-apocalyptic drive from Port Jervis to Manhattan last night, 6 hour journey turned back on NJ rt. 17 by flooding, tried other options, ended up crossing Hudson on 84, then down 9D,
turned back by flooding, downed power lines, and fallen trees on various routes by unfailingly good- natured public service employees, had a detour on 9 with directions around flooded area "turn right, then three lefts" hand-written by some good samaritan (thank you) Not a lot of cars on the road, and no traffic as we got into the city last night around midnight. An adventure.

Aug. 29 2011 11:50 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Larry Conroy: thanks for bringing that up. I was wondering what effects St. Vincent's closing might have had when I heard coverage about hospitals during the hurricane.

Aug. 29 2011 11:33 AM
Larry Conroy from Manhattan NY

One subject which hasn't come up in the media and should be highlighted after this "near miss" hurricane -- The closing of St. Vincents hospital and emergency/trauma center at 12th and 7th Avenue in the Village. With this closing, and the closing of Cabrini, St, Luke's and the 2nd St. Vincents uptown -- we are now left with a long string of hospitals - all on the East side of Manhattan mostly on first avenue. The nearest Trauma center now appears to be Bellevue where monthly intake has shot sky high. There have been reports of deaths due to ambulances - the majority being FDNY paid for by the city - being unable to get across and uptown in time to get the patient to an emergency center. The fact that St. Vincents was closed in order to sell it to the Rudin Corporation for the purpose of converting the whole complex into luxury condominiums is truly reprehensible. Their plan, after major community complaints - to convert the existing O'Toole building first floor into an urgent care center with- as their representative put it: "An ambulance standing by" is an insult to the community, as is their statement that added up to: a take it or leave it and consider yourselves lucky attitude. Thank God we didn't have a direct hit with major injuries, and God HELP us if we should suffer another 9/11. The media should look more closely into the extremely dangerous/hazardous situation facing the city.

Aug. 29 2011 10:58 AM
Melanie from Maplewood (without water but have power - yay!)

I just drove my husband to Newark airport (to pick up our car which got left their during the hurricane) and driving all round the airport I only saw one plane at a gate. Every other gate was totally empty, no other planes in sight.

While I was there (maybe a half hour) I didn't see any planes land. Its going to be a while before stranded passengers are getting anywhere.

Aug. 29 2011 10:54 AM

Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Gramercy area by bike. Beautiful day. Lots of cars and service vehicles blocking the bike lane but not different from any other day. Took it slow, followed the rules and got to work safe and sound. Just like any other day.

Aug. 29 2011 10:50 AM
Sharon in the Caribbean (Antigua)

First let me say that I'm very happy that Tri-State area (my former home) was not overly adversely affected by the Storm Irene. I sympathize with those in upper NY, Vermont, and/or Maine who have been truly affected.

I'm listening to the Brian Lehrer show online (one of my favorites) and my neighbor who is visiting began laughing at some of the comments and reactions of some of the listeners and reporters. Having lived through several very real hurricanes he is amazed at the time and coverage that is being given to this storm. I agree with him.

We (many expats living on the island) have been discussing this since Friday, when we heard the announcement that Mayor Bloomberg
order the evacuation of particular areas, and we could not believe this especially when the storm was not predicted to land or affect the areas evacuated overly much.

I suppose everyone will say better safe than sorry, but what was the cost of closing down all of these services, business for almost 2 days. Hmmmm.

Aug. 29 2011 10:50 AM
henry from somerset nj

Why no word from Bernstein your transportation reporter ?

Aug. 29 2011 10:47 AM
L Miller from Glendale, Queens, NY

I am getting very tired of people minimizing the comments made by the listener who wants to rebate from the MTA and these are some of the reasons why:
The unlimited monthly costs $104/card. That is a significant amount to some us.

The MTA charges one dollar for every new card you buy.

The MTA would not give you any breaks in prices.

The MTA raises prices whenever they feel they need.

The MTA provides the service they want to provide, whenever they are able to provide.

The consumers just has to accept whatever the MTA dishes out, so why not expect just a little back from the MTA when it fails to provide the services they are contracted/agreed to provide

Aug. 29 2011 10:44 AM
Smokey from LES

Shutting down MTA was prudent. At the time the decision had to be made, the storm was predicted to be much more severe. If this had been a full-blown hurricane, a lot more damage would have happened and much more time to restore service.

I think Bloomberg and City did a great job. I can't imagine any other city doing a better job of shutting down in such an orderly fashion and restoring services so quickly.

Let's put Bloomberg truly in charge of running New York City by electing him governor! (Cuomo seems to think he's the one to speak about OUR subway.)

Aug. 29 2011 10:37 AM
Bryan from North Brooklyn

Hurricane shelters had room to accommodate A MAXIMUM OF 20% of evacuees!! Tens if not hundreds of thousands of residents of public housing in Coney Island and Brighton Beach had their power cut off by the city, repeat by the city not by ConEd, in order to enforce the evac order.
Good plan?

Aug. 29 2011 10:36 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Somebody said: "What we need to do is get the 24 hour media coverage and all that hype of the air." Darn right. They were having a blast. They sure emphasized the negative possibilities -- "We're all doomed."
You too, Brian. I was a Trader Joe's on Friday (doing regular shopping) and when I got in line turned on MP3. You were listing emergency "necessities" and loving it. I heard only the briefest snippet, but turned off the MP3 and the line at TJs moved very fast.
I had panic-stricken neighbors (Chelsea) -- one of them told me that if I ran out of food he'd share his newly acquired canned food with me. He said he had enough for more than a month. The folks next door considered evacuating (we in a C area). Another neighbor came in with 3 gallons of water. We did not flood, did not lose power. We were only bored.
And yes, we've established a new normal. Every hurricane that comes up the coast is potentially dangerous. We're going to be shutting down the MTA 2 or 3 times a year from now on.

Aug. 29 2011 10:35 AM
Jeb from Greenpoint

Why don't regional power companies convert above-ground electricity lines to underground systems, as in much of Brooklyn and Manhattan? It seems this would solve many of the problems in tree-rich neighborhoods and suburbs.

Aug. 29 2011 10:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

It's not just the outdoor & less-deep train lines. Remember, the subway tunnels are constantly being pumped out even when there's no storm because of the underground streams. City officials couldn't know ahead of time whether all the pumps would keep functioning, & in any case, it's better to do more & find out you didn't need to than the other way around. I hope because they shut it down this time, they'll know what they need to fix to avoid a total shutdown next time--& what they will still need to shut down.

Aug. 29 2011 10:31 AM
Anne Burlock Lawver

The East Coast of the United States, all American cities are both robust and fragile. Many people do not know the terrible damage a hurricane can do. I grew up on the coast of Virginia and endured hurricanes and have first-hand knowledge as to how devastating they can be.

Bloomberg did the right thing! Had he not acted and Hurricane Irene slammed the city as originally feared, people would be furious about the weeks of delays caused by damage had Bloomberg not acted to protect the city's infrastructure!

Thank you Bloomberg for your strong, proactive leadership!

= Annie

Aug. 29 2011 10:31 AM
Robert Wiener from Washington Heights

Is the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway open?

Aug. 29 2011 10:30 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Under the circumstances, erring on the side of caution is the right thing to do -- though projection and precautionary analysis can definitely be refined...What I had a probelm with was the "en vivo" media coverage which was hyped, melodramatic -- breathless reporters wobbling into pockets of windy rain, etc. -- , lacking in informational value and ethically questionable.

Aug. 29 2011 10:29 AM
Libby from Harlem USA

I have to head to jury duty on a criminal case this afternoon, so I will soon find out how my commute will be. But I think it was wise to shut everything down, not for most folks with common sense, but for those who might have taken the risk and been outside yesterday. These coordinated decisions saved lives. But hopefully it demonstrated to New Yorkers and Americans why good governance and the maintenance of our shared assets that keep our nation running is important. Contrary to the misdirected anxieties of some fellow citizens - this proves why we DO NEED government!

Aug. 29 2011 10:27 AM
el from queens

I think the powers-that-be did an excellent job. We are lucky that Irene was not as bad as expected - she was still plenty bad! The people that are complaining that it was an over-reaction were lucky to not be hit badly. There are plenty that were!

Aug. 29 2011 10:25 AM
Stan from LI

Commute from LI to JFK was like an early Sunday morning. I think the Mayor and others did over reacted but this is what you need when dealing with a masses. We did not want another Katrina in NY. Moving the subway trains was a good thing. These trains would have been under water then what would the public say. We should have move to trains. Damn if you do damned if you don’t.

Aug. 29 2011 10:25 AM
Peter from Park Slope from Brooklyn

Moo from Manhattan is correct about the possible costs associated with an 11th hour transit shutdown. But that happens once or twice a year anyhow.

I think the salient question is whether low-lying rail yards or tracks have ever before been a justification for a shutdown of a subway line (much less the entire system).

Aug. 29 2011 10:24 AM
Matthew Ponsot from Baldwin, NY

With 500k still without power, and considering the steady return of mass transit, a more cogent show would be one about the power grid and why it's so vulnerable to wind events.

Aug. 29 2011 10:24 AM
mary from park slope

wasn't the entire subway system shut down on 9-11?

Aug. 29 2011 10:24 AM
lin from nyc

Prevented serious problems which could
have occurred had system been open.
Also, agree with caller. It was good practice
even though it wasn't the reason for closing down. Also, what about MTA workers? Why
should they risk their lives?

Aug. 29 2011 10:23 AM

This hurricane was terrible for many places but NYC has seen worse.
This shutdown would not have even been considered if the Mayor was not looking for an opportunity to rehabilitate his 'legacy after last year's post Christmas blizzard fiasco.
It was also probably a 'rehearsal' of sorts.
Is bus service even fully restored yet?

Aug. 29 2011 10:23 AM
larry from Williamsburg

New Yorkers are inherently unsatisfied and love to carp and whine.

I grew up on the gulf coast and hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable despite all improvements in the science. Sometimes they are worse than predicted, sometimes less. While I think the TV cable media hyped this to no end, I think the city did what they thought was best given the information available.

As as New Yorkers complain about all their inconveniences, they need to remember all those who are living in pretty devastated areas right now (not to mention the dead).

Aug. 29 2011 10:21 AM
William from Manhattan

I think the mayor and other officials & workers did fine. As the caller just said, the evacuations etc were a great stress test of our capabilities. And Irene could easily have been a massive disaster. Finally, maybe the MTA shutdown in itself has a positive effect - a massive reboot, as it were. We can believe! (Placebo effect, you know.)

Aug. 29 2011 10:21 AM
J M Stifle

Shutting down the transit system increased the sense of isolation and anxiety. If you didn't feel trapped before that, you certainly did after.

Aug. 29 2011 10:21 AM

I did a bike ride video during the hurricane through Times Sq - just a fun quick one - nice to be out on quiet roads that night.

Aug. 29 2011 10:21 AM
RBC from NYC

Although I think he didn't need to evacuate all of Zone A, I do like the fact that the public transportation system was shut down. First, since there was no bus/train everybody was in their home. Second, no one got stuck on a train/bus in the case of an equipment malfunction. Third, even in a tropical storm the winds and flying debris would make bus/train operation dangerous.

Aug. 29 2011 10:21 AM
moo from manhattan

this guy peter who thinks bloomberg overreacted is a fair-weather quarterback. if the mta were to have remained open, then shut down at the last minute, people would have been stranded, away from home, all over town. plus, the cost of lost trains had they not been on higher ground and flooding had been worse.

Aug. 29 2011 10:20 AM
Christopher Jensen from Brooklyn, New York

People do not understand risk! Monday-morning mayoring is easy once a tame storm has passed, but that is not the same as making the decision based on uncertain predictions:

Aug. 29 2011 10:19 AM
Jeanette from Brooklyn Heights

I am on vacation today so no commute -- if I was going to the office today I'd cycle and it is a gorgeous day for it. It would have been great.
Did they make the right decision to shut down the subway? In the context of expecting a very serious storm with consequences impossible to predict, I would say yes. Many tunnels are vulnerable to flooding, as are train yards which, had those trains not been moved (itself requiring a drastic reduction in service at best), those trains would have been unavailable in service. your current caller from Park Slope is questioning the decision, citing the historic first-time nature of this decision. But this looked to be a historic hurricane and, though it weakened more quickly than forecast, there was every possibility that it might not have, with very serious consequences. We could so easily have been in the opposite situation, criticizing the MTA for failing to shut down service and stranding passengers and trains alike. That would have been far more serious. So no, I do not think it was an over-reaction given how large a hurricane Irene was, and the fact that it was tracking straight for the city.

Aug. 29 2011 10:19 AM
Jill from Washington Heights

Everyone seems to forget that the MTA shut down a few years back for the transit strike (and I am guessing for the black out to although I was not around then).

Aug. 29 2011 10:19 AM
Marissa from Manhattan

I'm glad that all the preparations ended up being overkill; it's much better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. I live in the mandatory evacuation area, and we left town to PA ahead of the storm; it was totally worth it even though the damage was much less significant in the city than they anticipated.

Aug. 29 2011 10:19 AM
Jill from Washington Heights

Everyone seems to forget that the MTA shut down a few years back for the transit strike (and I am guessing for the black out to although I was not around then).

Aug. 29 2011 10:19 AM
A from Queens

If the MTA is shut down and the bridges are closed the Police will have a lot easier time controlling looting. I believe this is another reason why the MTA was shut down.

Aug. 29 2011 10:18 AM
Oscar from Ny

The city of ny is so thankful for prophet bloomberg, he is our moses our jesus our saviour, we owe him our lives and the city soon will make a sanctuary just for him, this saint is closer to god than anyone in ny, god shines ans he reflects for all the ppl of ny, I hope that god blesses this man and one day he can sit next to muhammad himself..he deserves all this bwcause his intelligence is supreme..he should run for president of israel, now that all his ppl believe he is the messiah ...god bless your mind mr are truly a worker for god.. all ny owe our lives to you..may the lord bless your brain only, and only your are our saviour. A MEN!

Aug. 29 2011 10:17 AM
Zuwena from Manhattan

Let's give it up for the Mayor and the MTA chair. They absolutely did the right thing starting with moving the closing time up to Saturday at noon. If they hadn't there would have been lots of people struggling to get home well into the night.
How kooky is it to blame the administration because things were not as bad as predicted. What we need to do is get the 24 hour media coverage and all that hype of the air.

Aug. 29 2011 10:17 AM

I think the MTA shutdown was to preempt the the threat of looting in places like Times Square and the Village where the looters would have to commute in from the outer boroughs.

Aug. 29 2011 10:16 AM


The MTA is a state agency, so they don't report to Bloomberg.

I'm not an expert on running a mass transit system, so I'm happy to defer to the judgment of those who are, and trust that they made the right decision in shutting down the subways in preparation for the storm.

Aug. 29 2011 10:16 AM
renisha in bedford-stuyvesant from Brooklyn

Left for work at the usual time - the B52 in Brooklyn running to schedule. The J into Manhattan and the uptown 6 were both less crowded than usual - didn't experience any delays and arrived to work on time.

Aug. 29 2011 10:15 AM
mary from harlem

Hey Brian

this whole city freak out about the Irene gave me such anxiety that it is solidified for me that it's time for me to leave new york city. way too stressful than it needed to be.

Aug. 29 2011 10:15 AM
Brandon from NYC

I did a bike ride video during the hurricane through Times Sq - just a fun quick one - nice to be out on quiet roads.

Aug. 29 2011 10:14 AM

Drove my husband from White Plains to downtown Manhattan since Metro North was shut down. Left the house at 6:30 in anticipation of traffic, but there weren't too many cars on the Hutch and Cross County. As long as you avoided the flooded parkways you were fine. There were more cars than usual at that hour as we drove through the Bronx onto the FDR, but we got in around 7:30, parked the car on the street (alternate side and meters suspended!), had a lovely breakfast, then found out no one was in the office today! Now, we are lounging on some chaises near Battery Park City overlooking the Hudson and enjoying cool breezes. What a beautiful New York morning!

Aug. 29 2011 10:13 AM
David from Morningside Heights

Breezed into work this morning--Columbia University to Times Square on the 1 train without incident. Less crowded than usual, even.

Aug. 29 2011 10:13 AM
bib from manhattan

clinon hill to soho, C to F, not a single problem, no delays, in before 9. would have ridden the bike if it was not working.

Aug. 29 2011 10:13 AM
Christopher from Brooklyn

Did they do the right thing?

For Sunday morning, maybe. Shutting down Saturday at 12? No. How are hundreds of thousands supposed to evacuate by 5pm when mass transit closed 5 hours before?

What is the real reason they shut down the WHOLE system? I think you are on to something.

Aug. 29 2011 10:13 AM
Mark from Mount Vernon

Brian, when decscribing physical distance use "farther." This morning you said "further" when talking about how far the hurricane stretched from the ocean.

This can be confirmed with Pat O'Conner, the AP and NYT Manuals of Style, and other grammar sources.

Aug. 29 2011 10:11 AM
anna from LES

No Drama in LES. I moved in this country 6 years ago. By now, I am used to the non-news cycle. MTA closed was a Bloomberg admin. political covering of their behind...!

Aug. 29 2011 10:11 AM
Carrie from SoHo

My commute from UES down to SoHo this am was a breeze! There were hardly any commuters on the 4, Shuttle and 1 trains at 7:30am. The trains were running quicker than on a regular day. Great job MTA! And yes, I agree with the shutdown. Better to be safe than sorry!

Aug. 29 2011 10:11 AM
Mike from Manhattan Beach

Of course they had to shut down the
system in order to prevent immense damage to the system if the worst happened.

Aug. 29 2011 10:10 AM
Ash in Chelsea

Aw come on. As a gleeful retiree, I don't have to worry about a commute. And, yes, I think they did the right thing by closing down everything. Clearly in politics, you're damned if you do and you're don't..

Aug. 29 2011 10:10 AM
Phoebe from Bushwick to Union Square

L train running on time and less crowded than ever before.

Aug. 29 2011 10:08 AM
Steve from Park Slope

A glorious day to ride a bike to work. Relatively traffic-free roads, great weather, and any detours due to hurricane debris were easy to get around.

Aug. 29 2011 10:04 AM
Zach from UWS

The habitually jam-packed 1 train was the most empty I've ever seen it at 8:30AM: everyone had a seat. Perhaps a lot of people opted to walk or take a cab or even stay home in light of the predicted hellish commute. I'm glad they did; it was the most pleasant morning commute I've had in years.

Aug. 29 2011 10:02 AM
hannah kim from 39th and b'way

Easy commute from livingston nj by bus. I am guessing people took option to work from home.

Aug. 29 2011 09:56 AM

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