Hurricane Irene: N.Y. cuts tolls, fares to encourage evacuations
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo suspended bridge tolls, subway fares and bus tickets -- all in a bid to coax New Yorkers to evacuate the areas most likely to feel the wrath of Hurricane Irene.
More than 250,000 New Yorkers were being urged to evacuate, including residents of Manhattan's Battery Park City, vast parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn's Howard and Manhattan beaches and everyone in the beachfront communities of Rockaway.
In order to nudge folks along, Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would suspend certain fares and tolls, including the tolls at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Fares were also suspended on buses and for subway and rail passengers at stations in the mandatory evacuation area.
"The only approach to a storm of this magnitude is to act preemptively. Waiving fares may be the factor that convinces some people to leave promptly when they might otherwise be tempted to stay and confront this hurricane," Cuomo said in a statement.
The suspended fares come with a ticking clock. The city's mass transportation system will begin to shut down starting at noon Saturday, including subways, buses and trains. It takes about eight hours to completely shut down -- and about the same amount of time to restart -- raising the possibility that the system won't be functioning by Monday morning's rush hour.
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Photo: The New York subway. Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images