New York City's mayor is defending a complete travel ban officials ordered ahead of a snowstorm overnight that halted subway service and cleared city streets of cars even as New York City got far less snow than feared.
The travel ban was a "no-brainer based on the forecast" New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today at a news conference.
Forecasts called for perhaps two feet of snow. Most of the city got far less, though 11 inches fell at LaGuardia Airport in the eastern borough of Queens, which was harder hit than other parts of the city.
Responding to a question about potential loss of business amid the travel ban, de Blasio said if the storm had hit at the strength of the most severe forecasts, business might have been hindered for days, rather than just Monday evening and this morning. In addition, he argued, snow removal crews would have had a harder time clearing the snowfall amid all the cars. And, he said, lives could have been lost.
"It was right to take extraordinary precautions," the mayor said. "We got lucky this turned out a lot better than we feared. We were prepared.
"My job as a leader is to make decisions, and I will always err on the side of safety or caution," he added.
"We got about half as much" as what was expected, de Blasio said. "We were spared the worst of this storm.
"Just 20, 30 miles east of the city border in Long Island, they got exactly what was originally projected for here," de Blasio said. "Our friends in Boston got what was projected for here."
Roosevelt Ave. & 82nd St., Jackson Heights moments after NYC travel ban. pic.twitter.com/roDowI77hw— Carpkow (@Carpkow) January 27, 2015
The city-wide travel ban was lifted at 7:30 a.m. this morning, but de Blasio said the subway will not return to full weekday capacity today. City parks reopened today at 11 a.m.
The public transit system is "quickly coming back to life," the mayor said. "The worst has passed."
New York's blizzard warning was cancelled this morning, but a winter storm warning remained in effect until midnight tonight.