Philly to shut down trains, buses ahead of hurricane

In a statement, Nutter said it was better to be safe than sorry.

“This is a dangerous storm, and I want to urge our residents to exercise extreme caution,” said  Nutter said in a statement released by his office. “Residents and businesses in low lying areas should prepare immediately. If you need to evacuate, please leave as quickly as possible for your own safety.”

SEPTA is the sixth busiest public transportation in the country, with New York City's subway system first, followed by Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail, Chicago's "L," Boston's "T" and San Francisco's Bay Area Transit System (BART). The system averages 1,087,700 per week. 

Earlier this week, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the New York subway system, said it would shut down the city's entire publication transportation system if winds from Irene reach 40 miles per hour. MTA officials said the New York subway, the largest and busiest in the U.S., could not safely operate with more than 39 mph winds.

Irene marks the first time either the New York or Philadelphia subway systems have been preemptively shut down because of a weather event.

The District's Metrorail has said that it is also preparing for Irene, though the system has not announced plans to cancel any services yet. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates Metrorail and Metro buses in the District, said Thursday evening it was fortifying flood-prone train stations with sandbags and would have chainsaws ready to clear any downed trees.

“We’re putting all of our resources in place to address any issues that arise out of the extreme weather conditions this weekend,” Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said in a statement. “We will be updating our customers through our website, Twitter, email alerts and the media.”

Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, said Thursday it was canceling trains that operate south of Washington over the weekend in anticipation of the hurricane.

Most airlines have also said they are allowing passengers to change reservations free of charge because of Irene, and some have become canceling flights in advance of the storm.