Oh, yes, it's on. After 3AM this morning, the Transport Workers Union announced they would strike a couple hours after rejecting the MTA's latest offer. Thousands of subway and bus workers walked off the job, leaving millions of New Yorkers to find new ways to go to work (sneakers, meet 60 blocks of walking). Now, New York City is in a state of emergency, in its special "contingency plan," with restrictions on vehicles (only cars with at least four people inside) for most of the morning, people trying to hail cabs, and Fifth and Madison Avenues closed to traffic. Transit workers, though, did finish their routes and close up stations carefully, at the union instructed; one station's sign read, "Strike in Effect. Station Closed. Happy Holidays!!!!" The city is trying to convene an emergency court session to stop the strike, but who know, this could go on for days.
The TWU rejected the MTA's last offer, which was 1.5% better than its earlier one - plus kept the retirement age at 55, but asked for employee pension contributions and less sick days - at around 11PM last night, and the MTA was quick to point out that a strike is illegal. The union's website is totally bogged down, as they are now redirecting people to visit their blog, twulocal100.blogspot.com.
The NYPD will be clocking in about $10 million of overtime, as they redirect traffic and watch subway stations. The Daily News has an editorial demanding Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg to asked a judge for "severe" actions against TWU President Roger Toussaint and the union members. We're listening to WNYC, which says that there is such a strong electrical current in the subway system that trains need to keep running, or else it will "arch" (we don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound good), so you may hear trains rumbling. And we're hearing that the LIRR station in Jamaica, Queens, where many city residents are headed to in order to get an LIRR ride into Penn Station, is a complete ZOO.
This is certainly a crazy day. We're going to gear up to walk to work. Take pictures and send them to email@example.com on your mobile phone, or tag them with "gothamist" on Flickr. And of course, give us your thoughts about your commute to work (or days at home). We're about to gear up to head to work, snapping pictures along the way.
UPDATE: Just walked down to Gothamist HQ on Chambers from Spring Street. Avenue of the Americas and Church Street both eerily empty-- seems like not too many cars are moving uptown because of the restrictions. Switched to Broadway, which seemed more crowded-- but most taxis just had one person going downtown-- a few had two or three. Chambers was pretty quiet-- people may just be coming in slightly late. We're going to check out the scene at the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in a few minutes. If you happen to be walking across the 59th Street Bridge, the GW, or one of the others, please grab some pictures or a few seconds of cameraphone video and send it to us! If you're already at work, what did you see on the way in?