Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg accepted responsibility today for NYC’s response to a crippling snowstorm, pledging to have every street plowed by morning and then to figure out why his administration’s cleanup efforts were inadequate.Speaking at a hardware store in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, Mr. Bloomberg said he was “extremely dissatisfied” with the performance of the city’s emergency management system. He said the response was “a lot worse” than after other recent snowstorms and was not as efficient as “the city has a right to expect.”
But he also defended his commissioners, including John J. Doherty, who runs the Sanitation Department. The mayor called him “the best sanitation commissioner this city has ever had, period, bar none.”
Mr. Doherty said he expected to have all of the city’s streets plowed by 7 a.m. Thursday. At midday Wednesday, about one-third of what city officials call “tertiary streets” had not yet been plowed, they said. The worst conditions were in residential areas of South Brooklyn and Staten Island, where the mayor said the topography and narrowness of the streets made plowing more difficult.
Mr. Bloomberg said the city had hired 700 day laborers to help shovel snow on Tuesday and planned to hire 1,200 on Wednesday. “The results have not been what we would like them to be but it was not for lack of effort,” he said.
Most subway and bus services have been restored and fewer than 50 city buses remained stuck in the snow about noon Wednesday, down from a high of about 600. Jay H. Walder, who runs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the only subway lines still not operating were the N line and the Franklin Avenue shuttle. He said the Metro-North railroad returned to normal service by Wednesday morning and the Long Island Rail Road hoped to resume full service by Wednesday evening.
Mr. Walder said a scheduled increase in subway fares would occur on Thursday as planned. It “has to go forward,” he said.
The mayor also spread some of the blame for the city’s problems on to its citizens, who he said had failed to heed requests that they not call for help unless they faced true emergencies. Those calls, the mayor said, “overwhelmed” the emergency communications system, a failure that he said he had assigned an official to investigate. City residents also compounded the problem by trying to drive in the storm, only to have their cars stuck in the path of plows.
“Maybe because of the weekend, a lot of people had to get home on Sunday night and got stuck,” he said.