New York subways open again, but post-Sandy commute remains daunting


Cars floating in a flooded basement in the financial district of New York City following Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012.


Andrew Burton

NEW YORK – New York City reopened its subway system at 5:30 a.m. this morning after stopping service for three days due to Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times reported. To encourage commuters to use mass transit, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced it would be free to ride New York City’s subway and buses today and Friday.

However, commuting into and traveling around Manhattan remained challenging as only 14 of 23 subway lines are running, and no lines are stopping between Brooklyn and 34th Street in Manhattan due to flooding and lack of power in the tunnels downtown, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Subway trains that remain offline include the No. 3 and 7 trains and the B, C, E, G and Q trains.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority set up “bus bridges” – transit points where Brooklyn residents can board MTA buses to take them into Manhattan until the subway connection resumes – in Williamsburg and at the Barclays Center and Jay Street transit hubs, WNYC reported.

Thousands of people waited in lines stretching several blocks to board the buses during rush hour, according to WNYC. Reporter Jim O’Grady told WNYC that the scene at the Williamsburg bus bridge location reminded him of a Tokyo subway. “There are MTA workers in orange vests, and they are pushing people onto the buses and forcibly closing the doors on them,” he said.

(Dedicated bus lanes on the bridges and through Manhattan helped speed the journey once the buses got going, WNYC reported.)

Enterprising commuters jumped into strangers’ cars to help them meet a three-people-per-car rule for vehicles driving over the Robert F. Kennedy, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges in place today and Friday. But driving into Manhattan took an additional hour or more as police enforced the rule, the New York Times reported.

According to the New York Times:

Police checkpoints set up in many places to enforce the high-occupancy-vehicle rule were so rigorous that they seemed to have the unintended effect of clogging up traffic flow even more, with lines of cars stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge to Staten Island.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at his midday press conference today: “I strongly urge everyone to not take their cars into Manhattan if they have any other travel option, even walking across the bridge. Please do it. It would probably be faster than taking your car.”

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