As water has begun to creep over the Battery, we’re in the not-so-calm before the worst of the storm and an accompanying surge hits the New York City area. Transit services have been offline since last night, and an eerie calm has descended over the city. Some people are out and about, and some local businesses are open. But right now, we’re just waiting for the worst to arrive.
The MTA though is not sitting idly by. They spent the night shoring up the system, and at a press conference with the Governor a few minutes ago, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota spoke about the risk to the system. Salt water, he explained, can have a very bad impact on the system. It can corrode switches “quite easily” and would seriously damage the signal system as well. Essentially, without switches and signals, the subways cannot run.
Last night, the MTA sent out a bunch of photographers to capture the system as it shutdown. We saw scenes of people rushing for the last train, an empty Penn Station, and Grand Central in its I Am Legend phase. People are at home as the storm strengthens.
As of now, the MTA has no plans to return subway service to normal until well after the storm passes. Once we’re in the clear weather-wise — which may still be 24-36 hours from now — crews will have to inspect the system for damage. I’ll have any updates as they emerge, but right now, the city that never sleeps seems to be taking an extended nap.