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Morning Commute a Slushy Mess as Public Schools Reopen Monday

By  Amy Langfield Noah  Hurowitz Nikhita Venugopal and Jeff Mays | January 24, 2016 7:15am | Updated on January 25, 2016 7:26am

 New Yorkers trudged through piles of snow on their first morning commute after a record-setting snowstorm.
New Yorkers trudged through piles of snow on their first morning commute after a record-setting snowstorm.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

NEW YORK CITY — Subways, buses and trains were running nearly up to full speed in advance of the Monday morning commute after the second-biggest blizzard in city history, but with the city still digging out from more than 2 feet of snow, some officials urged the mayor to reconsider his decision to open public schools.

"Too many families and educators are still struggling with mountains of snow and ice outside their doors — particularly those in the outer boroughs," Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement Sunday evening.

"Which is why we must ensure that every neighborhood in our city — from Williamsburg to Woodhaven to the South Bronx — gets equal snow-removal services from our plows."

The Department of Education said Sunday night that all public schools would be open, as well as after-school programs. School bus service would also be back up and running, officials said on Twitter, but all field trips would be canceled.

Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Sunday that portions of Queens had not been plowed sufficiently, but vowed to "do better" in preparation for what officials hoped would be a typical workweek.

Still, transit problems remained, with the Long Island Rail Road start time delayed by several hours and buses making route changes to cope with remaining snowy streets.

Queens state Sen. Jose Peralta said on Twitter that keeping schools open would make it difficult for parents.

But the mayor said street conditions in Queens would be better by Monday morning.

"We know for our neighbors in Queens that there are still...streets that are not in shape that we have to get in shape in the course of this day," de Blasio said Sunday.

"So we have less than 24 hours until the school buses start running around 4 or 5 in the morning. We know that's the deadline." 

Check here for the status of city transit:

The National Weather Service recorded 26.8 inches of snow in Central Park, which is the official reading for New York City, but parts of the city saw more — including 34 inches in Jackson Heights.

Currently the official record remains Feb. 13, 2006 with 26.9 inches.

Both airports saw record snowfall totals Saturday with 27.9 inches at LaGuardia and a little over 30 inches at John F. Kennedy, according to the NWS. 

JFK and LaGuardia were open Sunday morning, but thousands of flights have been canceled.

The snowfall was far heavier than expected, with initial projections only calling for up to a foot of snow. As the forecasted snow levels kept rising overnight Friday, the city had to move fast to deal with the monster storm, de Blasio said.

“On Friday we were hearing 7 to 10 inches, and then we got 26.8 inches,” he told ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “It became clear we were dealing with a whole different reality.”

Three people died in New York City while shoveling snow, in what officials believe were the only deaths caused by the storm, according to the NYPD and the governor. Two of the deaths were in Queens and one was in Staten Island, said Kevin Wisely, the director of the state's Office of Emergency Management.

De Blasio said Saturday's travel ban, which prohibited all non-emergency vehicles from being on the roads from 2:30 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday, allowed the city to keep the roads in better shape despite the storm at times dumping up to 3 inches of snow per hour.

“It allowed us to really get out and deal with the roads like we needed to,” de Blasio said. “If we had had a lot of stuck vehicles, Sanitation would not have been able to get those plows through.”

While most New Yorkers cooperated overwhelmingly with the restrictions, 25 summonses were issued for people who violated the ban, the mayor said during a press conference at the city's office of emergency management in Brooklyn.

One of the drivers flouting the ban was driving under the influence, speeding, and blowing through two red lights when he was caught, NYPD officials said.

New Yorkers can watch the progress of the Sanitation Department's snowplows at PlowNYC.