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MTA Shutdown of Subway, Commuter Lines at 7 p.m., PATH Shutdown at 12 a.m.

By Jill Colvin | October 27, 2012 2:17pm | Updated on October 28, 2012 6:34pm
 Passengers exit a subway train. Officials announced plans to shut the subway system down if necessary in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, on October 27, 2012.
Passengers exit a subway train. Officials announced plans to shut the subway system down if necessary in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, on October 27, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Chelsia Rose Marcius

NEW YORK CITY — The MTA and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a subway shutdown beginning at 7 p.m. on Sunday, as Hurricane Sandy continues on its path straight toward New York.

Officials made the final call just after 10 a.m. on Sunday, after announcing the possibility of a shutdown the day before if heavy rains and violent wind that could paralyze the city for the second time in as many years remained on track.

“The transportation system is the lifeblood of the New York City region, and suspending all service is not a step I take lightly,” said Gov. Cuomo, who also urged drivers to stay off the roadways.

"Stay home. Be prepared. Enjoy the family. Read a book. You don't need to be out on the roads," he said.

Subways services will be curtailed after 7 p.m. Sunday night, while New York City buses will be finishing up around 9 p.m. Final trains will depart from LIRR and Metro North stations at 7 p.m., the MTA said. Stations will close after the final trains arrive.

Hours after the announcement, the Port Authority said it would suspend PATH train service at midnight. Bridges and tunnels were all open, the authority said, but would post updates here continuously. The AirTrain at JFK would be stopping service at 7 p.m., and all airline activity would be ceasing overnight at the authority's airports, the authority said.

Closure of bridges and tunnels would be decided on a case-by-case basis, but the agency urged New Yorkers to keep updated by checking the Port Authority website for updates.

New York City Transit, Metro North, and the Long Island Rail Road will cross-honor each others' passes Sunday to expedite travel home, the authority said.

A full service shutdown will be in place by 3 a.m., in order to get trains and other equipment out of harm's way before the brunt of the storm's impact, which could include a storm surge of four to eight feet and winds 39 miles per hour or greater.

“This storm will batter the MTA, but the precautions we take now will allow us to recover much
more quickly," said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

Forecasters now expect landfall of the storm to hit land in central New Jersey early Tuesday, around 2 a.m. with wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour at its center.  By early Monday, ancillary rains and wind hitting hundreds of miles may be pelting the city, according to Accuweather.com.

Storm surges along coastal areas may hit 10 feet, necessitating evacuations in some city nursing homes, officials said.

State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah announced that all of the city's nursing homes and adult homes would be required to bring staffing levels up to 150 percent of normal levels by 5 p.m. Sunday to ensure that there are enough people in place in case of a sustained power outage.

All nursing homes located in low-lying Zone A areas are also being ordered to move all ventilator-dependent patients to higher ground by 5 p.m. Sunday. The move is expected to affect about 61 patients, and ambulances are being summonsed to help.

All of the city's bridges will also be shut down if winds reach more than 60 miles per hour.

“We’re planning or the worst and hoping for the best," Lhota said Saturday.