New York City officials learned of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's final decision to shut the city's subways and buses minutes before everyone else did, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"We found out just as it was being announced," de Blasio told reporters at City Hall.
After de Blasio's comments, Cuomo's and de Blasio'soffices confirmed an MTA official reached out to a mayoral staffer to confirm the shutdown about 15 minutes before the governor's public announcement.
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Both de Blasio and Cuomo each held multiple press conferences from New York City ahead of the storm, although never together. While the blizzard itself wasn't as historic for the city as both men warned ahead of Monday night, the precautions taken were.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had never before shut down transit service for a snowstorm. Service kicked back in at around 9 a.m. and was still far below normal weekday service by midday.
The governor's office said it had been in constant communication with city officials and had warned them as early as Sunday afternoon that the MTA might be shut, Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said in a statement.
"We understand that a 4:45 p.m. announcement of a closing at 11 p.m. is relatively short notice, but we wanted to get the best, most timely information before we made the decision, and the public clearly got the message," De Rosa wrote. "It was the right decision, as was closing the roads, given the information at hand."
Cuomo himself defended his administration's decisions based on experiences with recent storms, specifically the 2014 blizzard that left Buffalo under 7 feet of snow.
"I cannot tell you the response from meteorologists that totally berated me for criticizing their forecast," Cuomo told reporters in Suffolk County. "I'm not going to make that mistake again."
Even so, the approximately 5.5 million commuters and tourists who use the city’s public transit system on an average weekday were mostly out of luck as trains and buses slowly rolled out again.
De Blasio's office couldn’t immediately provide estimates on either how much response to the storm would cost nor how much of an impact the shutdown would have on the local economy.
Cuomo warned that statewide, the cost would add up to "millions of dollars."
Last year, storms in February that left some 28 inches of snow cost the city’s Sanitation Department alone an additional $75 million.
Despite the decision to close public access to transit not being up to de Blasio, the mayor defended the city's precautions.
"Would you rather be safe or unsafe?" he asked. "I will always err on the side of safety and caution."
That preparation included closing all schools, only the eleventh time classes were canceled for snow since 1978. Classes are scheduled to resume Wednesday.
By Tuesday morning, most New York City residents woke to find from 5 to 10 inches of snow on the ground — not the predicted 18 to 24 inches that Cuomo and de Blasio had warned of before trains and buses shut down Monday evening.