Mass Transit Grinds to a Halt as Sandy Nears

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NEW YORK (CNN) — Monday is going to be ugly.

Public transportation systems in three major metro areas are paralyzed, and trains and planes won’t budge as Hurricane Sandy zeros in on the East Coast.

*Track Sandy’s path here

More than 10 million public transit commuters will be without service. Here’s what to expect in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, on the railways and in the sky:

New York

In the city that never sleeps, New York’s ubiquitous subway and bus services came to a halt Sunday night.

“The storm is coming … and now it is time to take action,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters. “A situation like this, you don’t want to be overly panicked and overly prepared, but you want to be prudent and you want to do what is necessary.”

It’s rare for New York’s massive transit network, the largest in North America with about 8.5 million riders a day, to shut down.

But Cuomo said the move was necessary because it’s not safe to operate trains in high winds. Equipment could also become damaged.

It’s unclear how long the system will be down.

“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,” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said on its website.

Washington

Second only to the New York system in terms of size, the Washington Metro system will also stay idle on Monday. About 1.5 million people use the Metro each day.

It’s unclear when bus service and rail service will be restored, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said.

Philadelphia

Tthe 770,000 riders who use public transit each day in the Philadelphia area each day will also have to do without.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) urged those who do not need to travel to stay off the roads.

Just like with New York and Washington, it’s too early to say when public transit in Philadelphia will be restored.

New Jersey

Meanwhile, NJ Transit has suspended all bus, rail, light rail and Access Link service in New Jersey.

“This is a dangerous and destructive Hurricane with the potential to cause large-scale power losses, wind damage and both coastal and river flooding — all of which will impact NJ TRANSIT service during and after the storm,” Executive Director James Weinstein said in a written statement.

Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson said the suspension will also better support the state’s response to Hurricane Sandy by freeing up buses or other resources that may be needed for hurricane relief.

Flights canceled

The storm is also wreaking havoc on air travel.

All Monday flight operations at the Philadelphia International Airport have been canceled, an airport spokeswoman said.

Delta said flights from Washington to Boston will stop Monday morning. The airline had already canceled all flights out of New York and Philadelphia starting Sunday evening.

United Airlines canceled about 3,700 flights between Sunday and Wednesday.

Both companies are allowing some customers to change their flight plans without paying any fees due to Sandy.

Delta will let those ticketed to fly between Sunday and Wednesday — to and from airports in 15 states and the District of Columbia — to reschedule by November 4. United’s offer applies to travel to and from 29 airports, for the same dates.

Other airlines, such as American, are offering a similar process, with slight variations.

British airport officials say dozens of outbound flights to New York, Newark, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia have been canceled. Many inbound flights also have been scrubbed.

Airport authorities from other nations report similar cancelations.

Train service derailed

Amtrak said it is canceling almost all services on the eastern seaboard Monday.

Bus lines connected to those trains were also canceled.

Dangerous waters

For all the potential headaches at airports, train stations and bus terminals, the type of transportation affected first and most directly by Sandy may be boating.

All along the East Coast, meteorologists and officials have warned people to steer clear of the seas because of potentially perilous high winds and large waves tied to the storm.

Pam and Bob Haigh of Rhode Island had planned to sail from Maryland to the Florida Keys until Sandy

“We’ve got a surprise, so we’ll just ride it out,” Pam Haigh said. “There’s not much else we can do.”

*For additional coverage on Hurricane Sandy, click here