New York has issued its first-ever subway shutdown as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast, but Washington, D.C.’s metro transit will operate as normal, WMATA officials said.

“At this point, we have no plans to change,” Steven Taudenkidel, spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, told the AFRO. “We open at 7 a.m. and plan to close at 3 a.m. .”

Taudenkidel said the only change they made to D.C.’s metro rail system was a revision of the schedule for Sunday, August 28 The subway will open at its previously-scheduled 7 a.m. time, rather than the earlier time of 5 a.m. due to the postponement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication.

WMATA said further changes will be posted on and on their Twitter account @wmata.

The storm, scheduled to make landfall in D.C. on Saturday, will arrive in New York City on Sunday. The city of New York has ordered a shutdown of the nation’s largest subway system, and buses will also stop running.

The International Business Times (IBT), however, suggested that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s drastic shutdown approach may be an attempt to compensate for criticism the city faced in handling last winter’s major snow storms.

Bloomberg was criticized after plows did not clear snow from secondary roads, according to IBT. An elderly lady who could not get to the hospital died and a pregnant woman in labor who tried to walk to the hospital lost the baby.

“Politically, needs to show that the city has recovered from the storm debacle last December and there’s a clear and hands-on managerial style,” said David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs in Manhattan.

In Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray has declared a state of emergency.


Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer