As we predicted yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning that the MTA will completely shut down their entire transportation system—including subway, rail and bus— starting at 7 p.m. tonight, before FRANKENSTORM is due to hit the city. "This is nothing to play with; this is nothing to take lightly," Cuomo said. MTA chief Joe Lhota was realistic about when it might be back: "Monday and Tuesday will be difficult. Service may be restored Wednesday, but perhaps not fully."

The city has been preparing this for the past few days, organizing an “orderly shutdown” preparation plan: “The MTA proved it can suspend service in an orderly manner when it did so last year for Tropical Storm Irene, and we have refined our Hurricane Plan since then to help us prepare for Hurricane Sandy,” said Lhota. “The transportation system is the lifeblood of the New York City region, and suspending all service is not a step I take lightly,” Cuomo said. “But keeping New Yorkers safe is the first priority, and the best way to do that is to make sure they are out of harm’s way before gale-force winds can start wreaking havoc on trains and buses.”

The subway system will start to shut down at 7 p.m. tonight—it takes eight hours to suspend subway service, so some trains may continue to run for several hours after that deadline, but they stress that there's no guarantee of service. The bus system takes six hours to suspend service, so the last buses will run at 9 p.m. LIRR and Metro-North Railroad will run final trains at 7 p.m.; Grand Central Terminal and other Metro-North station buildings will be closed at that time as well.

In a press statement, they warn: "The duration of the service suspension is unknown, and there is no timetable for restoration. Service will be restored only when it is safe to do so, after careful inspections of all equipment and tracks. Even with minimal damage this is expected to be a lengthy process."