If the snow gets bad in Gotham this winter, the MTA may shutdown some of its above-ground service, New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast said Tuesday.
"There was a mantra to run at all costs," Prendergast said during a city council transportation meeting Tuesday."There are times when you have to change that mantra… where it's clear that you can't continue top-rate service."
But Prendergast said shutting down portions of service, or even system wide shutdown -- as was done before Hurricane Irene in August -- is “not a decision you take lightly.”
Bill Henderson of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said one reason the agency was more open to the idea of shutting down service was because of the successful outcome following August’s system wide shutdown.
“Seeing that they were able to come out of it a lot better than people thought they were going to come out if it helped make it an easier decision,” Henderson said of putting the possibility of shutdowns this winter on the table.
Prendergast also vowed there would be changes to this year’s winter preparedness plan after a storm last December left commuters stranded throughout the region, including more than 400 trapped on a subway for seven hours.
This year, one MTA employee’s sole responsibility will be to look out for stranded straphangers. Prendergast said not having someone in that post last year contributed to the excessive delay freeing the passengers on A train stuck at the Aqueduct Racetrack station.
"We forgot about that train,” he admitted Tuesday. “We forgot about it and it's inexcusable.”
City councilman James Vacca, who heads the transportation committee, said he was pleased with the MTA’s plan, but wasn’t yet convinced it would work.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” he told amNewYork. “I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude.”