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Hurricane Sandy update: Metro-North, MTA suspends service

A Metro-North train pulls into a station in

A Metro-North train pulls into a station in this file photo. (March 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

The MTA herded its Metro-North trains to storage yards, positioned backhoes and cranes to help secure 800 miles of tracks and began the process of buttoning down Grand Central Terminal and the outlying stations Sunday night in a bid to blunt the fury of Hurricane Sandy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the MTA to begin the shutdown of bus, subway and commuter rail lines as the storm churned up the coast.

Though 7 p.m. was announced as the cutoff for the final Metro-North trains, a train from Southeast to Grand Central was scheduled to leave at 7:13 p.m. and arrive at 8:40 p.m.

“I have directed the MTA to put its Hurricane Plan into action to help New Yorkers prepare for the storm and protect the vital assets of the region’s transportation system,” Cuomo said in a public announcement posted on the MTA's web site Sunday. “New Yorkers need to take action now to protect themselves.”

Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the MTA,  said subway service in New York City would be curtailed starting at 7 p.m. and that bus service would be phased out over the following two hours.

"If this storm continues on the path that it's on -- and it's not being very consistent from hour to hour -- [but] if it continues with tropical storm winds Sunday night to Monday morning and a surge from four to eight feet, it's a great concern," Lhota said.

Lhota cautioned that high winds could impact auto traffic as well.

"Each and every one of the MTA bridges will be shut down if we get up to 60 mile per hour winds," Lhota said.

Regardless of weather, when winds reach 50 mph, vehicles such as motorcycles, tractor-trailers, step vans, minibuses, trucks with open backs, cars pulling trailers, motor homes and vehicles carrying plate glass are barred from using MTA crossings.

Metro-North Railroad and New York City Transit workers began taking several steps on Friday to protect equipment and make it easier to deal with the effects of high winds and flooding. At 8 a.m. Sunday, New York City Transit's Incident Command Center was activated.

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