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New Yorkers Experience Miserable Commutes When 6" Of Snow Shocks City

Thursday's snow storm was just supposed to be a wintry mix, but it then transformed into the biggest single day November snowfall since 1882 (PDF). And that turned into chaos for anyone relying on buses or cars to get home: school buses were stuck with children on board (one bus of special needs students was stuck overnight); a City Council member was stuck in traffic for nine hours; and the Port Authority shut down floors of the bus terminal for crowd control (and asked commuters to find alternate means to get home).

On Wednesday afternoon, the Sanitation Department boasted that it was ready for the projected 1-3" of snow expected for NYC on Thursday, noting that they had 695 salt and sand spreaders in their arsenal. This morning, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia faulted the problems on the George Washington Bridge that "cascaded," causing the traffic issues in Manhattan and the Bronx. In her brief interview with CBS2, Garcia did admit that snow plowing was slow and later a "struggle," detailing the issues with bringing in equipment from Queens and avoiding the Triborough (RFK) Bridge.

Further south, problems piled up at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. One commuter, Mike S., told Gothamist that he got to the station at 4:30 p.m. for a bus to Freehold, NJ. At that point, no one was allowed past the second floor of the northern building: "It was crowd control, and packed with lines."

He said that the crowd, through frustrated, decided to make the most of it. "When a TV news crew showed up, people were cheering and yelling things," he recalled. And when commuters were finally allowed to go upstairs, staff asked them to be orderly and use one staircase but "someone pushed the stop button on a down escalator and people ran up."

Mike finally got on a 7:30 p.m. bus and got home at around 10 p.m. (his usual bus commute takes about 70 minutes). The annoying commute did have a silver lining: "What was interesting was that usually on the bus, no one talks," he said. "But last night, everyone was talking with each other—I became friends with the guy sitting next to me."

However, Mike wasn't sure why the Port Authority was asking commuters to give up on taking the bus home. "There's realistically no way to get home—I think there was downed power lines on the NJ Coast Line," he said, referring to the NJ Transit route he could have taken, "which would have put me 30 minutes from my car... and it's not like there were taxis and the roads were terrible." When he was on the bus, leaving the city, he looked at the 495 helix and noticed that there were no buses coming in because road crews were plowing and salting the roads: "They stopped all traffic."

Eric Phillips, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, seemed to blame downed trees (which fell with heavy snow and ice on their leaves), road closures, and MTA buses.

Speaking of the trees:

Still:

Some Gothamist readers shared their tales of woe:

For subway riders, it was somehat par for course:

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