NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Hurricane Sandy hasn't yet made landfall on the East Coast, but the storm already is having a big impact on New York City commuters. The Metropolitan Transit Authority says it will begin a full shutdown of the city's subway, bus and commuter railroads at 7 p.m. EDT Sunday in order to protect customers, employees and equipment from the deadly hurricane, which is churning northward in the Atlantic, parallel to the East Coast. "The decision was made to protect customers, employees and equipment from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy as the strong storm continues its march up" the East Coast, the MTA said in a statement on its Web site. The MTA said it didn't know how long the shutdown would last. "Service will be restored only when it is safe to do so, after careful inspections of all equipment and tracks," the statement said. "Even with minimal damage this is expected to be a lengthy process." > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll The MTA is North America's largest transportation network. Until Tropical Storm Irene last year, the MTA had never conducted a full-scale shutdown of the subway system because of weather. Officials said subway service will be curtailed starting at 7 p.m. EDT, while buses will stop running within the following two hours. The last Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad trains will leave terminal locations by 7 p.m. EDT. The MTA will also close subway and railroad stations after the last trains pass through. As of 11 a.m. EDT Sunday, the National Weather Service said Hurricane Sandy was about 250 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. and was moving toward the northeast near 14 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to turn to the north and then to the northwest late Sunday and early Monday. Sandy is expected to approach the coast as early as Monday night. The hurricane killed at least 58 people in the Caribbean, according to CBS News.