NYC Travel Ban In Effect; City Public Schools Closed Tuesday
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- All nonemergency vehicles have been banned from the roads as until further notice, New York City public schools will be closed Tuesday, and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
The travel ban took effect at 11 p.m. Monday. While there was a brief lull in the storm during the evening hours, forecasts late Monday night continued to call for up 2 feet of snow for New York City proper -- with some models calling for more. The worst was expected in the early morning hours Tuesday.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway trains and buses, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road were also shut down at 11 p.m. Roads in the southernmost 13 New York state counties were also placed under a travel ban that began at the same time, and violators could be fined up to $300, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier.
Early Monday evening, Mayor de Blasio advised everyone in the city to take precautions and be very careful. While the weather had briefly calmed down around 7 p.m., the mayor warned that the trend would not last.
"It's about to start in earnest, and when it does, it's going to come very fast, very hard, and people have to be careful," the mayor said. "Stay off the streets. Stay off the sidewalks."
NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill said those violating the driving ban could end up with a ticket, or in the worst-case scenario, be arrested.
Mayor De Blasio Announces Travel Ban As Of 11 P.M.
"Not what we want to do," O'Neill said. "We want to be helping people, but we need people to stay off the roads tonight.
As far as the ban on nonemergency vehicles, the mayor said no vehicles dealing with leisure, convenience, takeout foods and movies will be allowed on the roads.
"Leave your car where it is. This could go on for a couple of days," said the mayor as he held a news conference on the impending blizzard.
"It will be very difficult to dig out your car. We don't want people to put snow back out into the street," added Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
"The priority right now is anything to related to the safety of our people," de Blasio said.
Mayor de Blasio also advised anyone who did not have to be outside to avoid walking on the sidewalks, as snow was expected to fall at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour with a winds picking up to what could approach hurricane levels.
"People need to assume it's not a night to be out walking around," he said.
The mayor noted that everyday New Yorkers have been advised to get home early "at all costs," and those who have to work late might spend the night at work.
"This is not business as usual," he said. "Get home. Employers, be flexible, because we've got to get people to safety."
As to when the ban in New York City will be lifted, de Blasio said he does not yet know.
"In terms of the ban on nonessential travel – in terms of what the MTA will do in terms of subways – that will determine be determined as we see the storm progress," the mayor said. "So we're not going to lift the ban on non-essential travel until we're sure that the way is clear."
As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, commuters started filling Penn Station in the mid-afternoon hours, and lines wrapped around the block at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch a bus before the station closed and the city literally shut down.
By 9 p.m., Penn Station was nearly abandoned.
NJ TRANSIT sent out its last trains at 8 p.m. The last Metro-North trains were to depart between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., depending on the station destination, and the last LIRR trains were expected to reach Suffolk County around 12:30 a.m.
De Blasio learned something from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's big mistake during the 2010 blizzard, when ambulances, fire trucks and police cars couldn't pass because regular drivers blocked the streets, WCBS 880's Marcia Kramer reported. Some critics even called him "Mayor Michael Bilandic Bloomberg" – a reference to former Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic, whose infamously poor response to a blizzard in 1979 cost him his bid for reelection a few months later.
"The priority right now is anything related to the safety of our people," de Blasio said.
The city ordered 40 percent more ambulances to be on the roads, and 500 extra firefighters.
Meanwhile in the school system, the mayor said Regents exams are being canceled and will be rescheduled. All after-school activities and programs scheduled for Monday were also canceled.
Charles Savage traveled to Penn Station from Philadelphia Monday night. He thought he could make it to Montauk, but he thought wrong.
"Maybe it's a good thing, but it certainly is inconvenient," said Savage, of Amagansett, Long Island.
But with commuter lines starting to shut down around 9 p.m., he did not make it past Queens.
"When I got to Jamaica for the change, they had cancelled the train," Savage said. He had to go back to Penn Station.
The last Long Island Rail Road trains left from Penn Station just before 11 p.m. NJ TRANSIT locked up its waiting area when the last trains left at 8 p.m.
Amtrak canceled trains between Boston and New York through Tuesday, and Metro-North service wrapped around 11 p.m.
Subway service also shut down completely at 11 p.m., and the streets were so desolate they were fit for tumbleweeds.
As CBS2's Tracee Carrasco reported, New York City taxis were also parked and out of commission for the night, following the travel ban and in an effort to avoid the fate of one livery cab driver earlier. He was stuck with no place to go and had to dig his car out before the storm even arrived.
But the conditions were just as bad when he dug himself out.
"They're pretty bad," he said. "I mean, if you're in the city, they're cleaned, but if you go outside, it's not really good," he said.
Despite the slow going on the roads, drivers were still in a rush before the travel ban began.
"I'm just trying to get gas and go home, because they say it's going to be pretty bad later on so," a driver said.
The travel ban even includes delivery crews on bicycles. The restaurant for which one deliveryman worked was closing early because of the restrictions, but he was worried he would be stranded with no way to get home.
"My friend told me no train, no bus," the delivery driver said. "Maybe I go with my friend -- he has a car. My boss has a car; he'll take me to my home."
Mayor De Blasio Closes NYC Public Schools Tuesday, Announces Travel Ban As Of 11 P.M.
CHECK: Forecast & Alerts | Traffic & Transit | School Closings & Delays | Flight Status | Cold Weather & Safety Tips
Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Transportation announced that alternate-side parking regulations will be suspended through Wednesday to facilitate snow removal.
Payment at parking meters will remain in effect throughout the city.
All Broadway performances were also canceled as a result of the storm, the Broadway League announced.
"As a result of the 11:00pm travel ban and other travel restrictions and safety precautions implemented by government authorities on behalf of the winter storm, evening performances will be cancelled tonight," Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, announced. There was no decision announced about Tuesday's shows.
A blizzard warning is in effect for the metropolitan area through midnight Wednesday night. The "potentially historic" storm could bury communities in up to 4 or more feet of snow.
for more features.