MTA Admits to Mistakes That Led to Blizzard Transit Disaster

By Jennifer Glickel on January 14, 2011 5:19pm | Updated on January 15, 2011 10:28am

A straphanger navigates past a snow pile and slush puddle at at subway entrance at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue during last month's blizzard.
A straphanger navigates past a snow pile and slush puddle at at subway entrance at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue during last month's blizzard.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

By Jennifer Glickel

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN —New York City's transit chief apologized Friday for a disastrous performance during last month's blizzard.

At a City Council meeting Thomas Prendergast, the head of New York City Transit, reportedly admitted it took his agency 19 hours to accept the scale of problems the massive snow dump created.

The failure to act led to passengers being stranded on board subways for hours and left 650 buses stuck in the snow.

"We were 19 hours slow in formally issuing the highest level of alert," the New York Post quoted Prendergast, whose division of the MTA deals with buses and subways, as saying at the meeting.

"We were lulled into a false sense of security on our own. Nobody led us into that," he added.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was highly skeptical of Prendergast's comments.

"Lulled is not a particularly comforting word from a government official," she said.

"It snows here," Quinn said. "It happens. It's not like we got hit by a natural disaster we couldn't anticipate."

Prendergast said that there were two major mistakes made on the part of the MTA — firstly that emergency services were not organized before 20 inches of snow fell on Manhattan and, secondly, that a situation room was not set up to handle coordination during the storm.

The MTA promised that it will improve its planning in advance of storms in the future.

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