Transit System On The Mend
Limited Trains Back; Traffic Heavy To City
Piece by piece, New York City’s transportation system is coming back to life after being dealt a devastating blow at the hands of the perfect storm previously dubbed Hurricane Sandy—but it will take some time before it has fully recovered.
As the Times Newsweekly went to press on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 1, trains were once again rolling on MTA subway lines through Brooklyn and Queens, albeit with limited service. Reportedly, on some subway lines, there were throngs of commuters waiting up to an hour for a train or bus ride.
It was still impossible for commuters on the east side of the East River to reach areas of Manhattan below 34th Street by rail. In some cases, crews were continuing to repair equipment in tunnels which were flooded during the storm on Monday night. But even those trains which could reach Manhattan were unable to travel south of 34th Street since the area remained without power.
For whatever is working, commuters will be able to use the MTA service free of charge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a “transportation emergency” on Wednesday, Oct. 31 and ordered the MTA to waive fares on all subways, buses and commuter rail lines through today, Friday, Nov. 2.
“The gridlock we experienced today shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency,” Cuomo said.
On Thursday morning, M trains were operating shuttle service between Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Myrtle Avenue-Broadway on the Bushwick/ Bedford-Stuyvesant border. The J line was also operational, with trains running between Jamaica Center and Hewes Street.
In order to reach Manhattan, riders transferred from the J train at Hewes Street to a free shuttle bus which crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan and traveled along Lexington and Third Avenues to the 57th Street station. M train riders heading to Manhattan were required to transfer to the J train at Myrtle Avenue-Broadway to get to Hewes Street.
Shuttle bus service to the 57th Street station was also available in Brooklyn from the Atlantic Terminal- Barclays Center and Jay Street- MetroTech stations. Approximately 330 buses will be used on the three shuttle bus routes, MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota announced on Wednesday night.
“Everyday, we’ll come back with more and more service. I ask all New Yorkers for their understanding,” he added. “The trains aren’t going to be as frequent. There will be crowding. … Just bear with us while we come back with what I’ve said has been the most devastating thing to happen to the MTA.”
The F line was also back in operation in time for the Thursday morning commute, running in two segments: between 179th Street in Jamaica and 34th Street-Herald Square, making all local stops; and in Brooklyn between Jay Street-MetroTech and Avenue X, also operating local service.
Also offering split service was the A line, which came back on Thursday morning in two sections: between Lefferts Boulevard in Ozone Park and Jay Street-MetroTech, and between 34th Street-Penn Station and 168th Street in Manhattan.
Service on the L line was also partially restored on Thursday morning, with trains operating between Broadway Junction and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway.
There were no R trains in Queens, as the line was shortened to operate local service in Brooklyn between Jay Street-MetroTech and 95th Street.
Finally, the N train was back up and running, making local stops between Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard and 34th Street-Herald Square.
Still suspended as of Thursday morning were the 7, E, G, Q and Z lines. As this paper went to press, an approximate time as to when service on those lines would be partially or fully restored was not known.
As of Wednesday morning, almost all MTA bus lines, including limited and express routes, were reactivated on or close to a full weekday schedule. Access-a-Ride service was also reinstated.
Limited service was also brought back in the last two days on several Long Island Rail Road lines. As of press time on Thursday, hourly service was restored on the City Terminal line between the Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal stations, the Ronkonkoma branch between Penn Station and Ronkonkoma and the Port Washington branch between Penn Station and Great Neck.
The branches which remained out of service as of Thursday were the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and West Hempstead lines.
In a statement on its website Wednesday night, the MTA indicated that “It is still too early to say how long it will take to restore the [entire subway and commuter rail] system to full service.”
“This is will be an exhaustive, time-consuming process with one goal: to restore safe and efficient service to 8.5 million daily MTA customers,” the authority said. “It must be noted, however, that this process could have taken much longer had we not taken the pre-emptive measure of suspending all service to safeguard our equipment and prepare facilities to the best of our ability.”
For the latest updates, visit www.mta.info or call 511.
On the roads
In response to the high volume of vehicular traffic into Manhattan on Wednesday morning, the city Department of Transportation institute high occupancy vehicle restrictions on the Manhattan-bound sides of all East River crossings on Thursday and today from 6 a.m. until midnight. Any passenger vehicle traveling to Manhattan across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg or Ed Koch-Queensboro bridges are required to have at least three passengers; any vehicle not meeting that requirement is not permitted to cross.
This restriction was also enacted on the RFK-Triborough and Henry Hudson bridges by the MTA, and on the Lincoln Tunnel by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The temporary restriction does not apply to taxi cabs after 4 p.m. or to emergency vehicles or buses.
Additionally, it was also announced by the DOT that the lower level of the Manhattan Bridge would be temporarily reserved for bus traffic. Bus lanes were also created on certain arteries in Brooklyn and Manhattan in order to keep traffic moving.
Alternate-side parking rules remain suspended today, but drivers are again required to feed the meters at designated parking spots.
Most of the crossings controlled by MTA Bridges and Tunnels have been reopened. They include the RFK-Triborough, Henry Hudson, Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Verrazano Narrows and Gil Hodges-Marine Parkway bridges. The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge is open in both directions, but southbound service may be suspended periodically to allow for emergency equipment to pass through.
Both the Hugh Carey-Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels remain closed indefinitely after being flooded out on Monday night.