Generally, when a blizzard nears, express trains run on local tracks so idle subway cars can be stored underground, and service along the lines that operate in open trenches (the A in Queens, the N in Brooklyn) stops until the snow is cleared.
The plan’s worked well, letting the city operate largely as normal.
On Monday, the plans changed. With little consultation with the MTA, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced subway service would be suspended entirely beginning at 11 p.m. This would ensure New Yorkers were not out in dangerous conditions
But New York City doesn't operate in a world of ideals. Instead, nurses working late shifts, janitors and bartenders couldn’t get home.
Still, empty trains ran through Monday night into Tuesday, both to clear the tracks of snow and because stopping and restarting the trains would have taken far more time than Cuomo had allowed.
New York's subway system is designed to operate in a blizzard. To keep people off the streets, it should operate throughout a bad snow storm. Whether the Governor likes it or not, the city that never sleeps and the workers who run it need the trains no matter the snow.