New York Commuters Face Delays After Snowstorm

Travelers confronted delays on the rails and in the sky Monday as the region continued to dig out from a record-breaking snowstorm.

"Usually the trains never stop. It's never been like this," said Rebecca Karpus, who was waiting to return home Monday morning on the Long Island Rail Road after being stranded at Penn Station since 6:30 p.m. Sunday. "It's really paralyzed us."

The LIRR had restored limited service into Penn Station, while outbound trains and service on the Hempstead and Port Washington branches remained suspended Monday. There was limited train service on other LIRR branches.

Metro-North was operating on a regular weekday schedule. But its Hudson and Harlem lines had 10 to 15 minute delays, and its New Haven line had 30 minute delays.

Commuters at the Metro-North Pelham train station in Westchester took the storm in stride, with most saying that as long as the trains were running, they had no qualms about going to work.

"I didn't give it a second thought," said Steve Ruffino, a lawyer who commutes into Manhattan.

While many suburban schools were closed or had delays on Monday, the Board of Education said there would be no snow day for New York City students.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service reported that 26.9 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park, the highest tally since records started being kept in 1869. The old record was 26.4 inches in December 1947.

The storm canceled more than 500 flights at the region's three major airports, which were closed for a time on Sunday but had reopened by Monday morning. Residual delays were expected.

One of the few flights operating at Kennedy International Airport skidded partially off the runway Sunday evening, but none of the 197 passengers were hurt, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Officials said it was too early to say for certain whether icy conditions caused the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking Sunday at a salt storage facility on the Hudson River, said that with 2,200 snow plows and 350 salt spreaders working, he hoped to have all the city's 6,300 miles of streets cleared by Monday's rush hour.

Bloomberg said 2,500 Department of Sanitation employees were working in 12-hour shifts, with vacations and days off canceled, and temporary workers were being hired at $10 an hour to shovel snow.

Many Manhattan street curbs were slushy and snowy on Monday, making crossing the street a challenge. Snow was cleared only down the center of some sidewalks, turning them into one-way passages.

In downtown Pelham, businesses opened up as usual, with store owners shoveling their sidewalks and clearing icicles.

"I went to church and then I came here — no problem," said Han Ungkan, who runs Pileggi Shoe Repair.

While many New Yorkers took the storm in stride on Sunday — taking their children sledding or braving snowy sidewalks to make appointments — by Monday it appeared that some nerves were beginning to fray.

Walter Garcia, 39, had spent almost 18 hours at Penn Station in a LIRR waiting room — where some passengers were sleeping or dozing off — for a train to Port Washington on Long Island.

"It's very, very poor emergency planning on the part of the Long Island Rail Road to have passengers stranded for 10, 15, 17 hours," he said.