Buses to return at 5 p.m. but ‘no firm timeline’ for restoration of subway serviceBy
Update (11:46 a.m.): New York City buses will resume limited service this afternoon at 5 p.m. as the city dries out after the Sandy storm surge. The MTA will waive fares on all buses today and tomorrow as the transportation network comes back online, but restoration of full subway service is still a few days away, according to city officials. “It’s going to take a lot of time and patience to get power and the subways back up and running,” Mayor Bloomberg said this morning. Currently, there is no firm timeline for the restoration of subway services, and the MTA again stressed as much.
According to Bloomberg — and as we already know — the subway tunnels under the East River have flooded, but the Mayor said Transit’s rolling stock has emerged unscathed. “It shows the wisdom of Joe Lhota of moving trains out of there and to higher ground,” the Mayor said. Still, the Mayor doesn’t expect full subway service back any time soon. He said he guesses that it could take “three or four days” for full service to return. “I’d be happy if that’s what it turns out to be,” he said.
Speaking a short time later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered his assessment of the system. “The damage to tracks and the tunnels under water is unlike anything the city has seen in decades, if ever,” he said. Praising the decision to halt transit service ahead of the storm as a “prudent one,” Cuomo said that this will be a “long-term reconstruction.”
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota took the mic next and offered up a sober assessment of the situation. While the rolling stock — Transit’s buses and subway cars — are OK, the tracks are not. “The MTA faced a disaster as devastating as it ever faced in its history,” he said. Currently, Clark St. Tunnel, Steinway Tunnel, Montague St. Tunnel, Cranberry Tunnel and Rutgers Tunnel are under water, and crews are pumping out the Joralemon St. Tunnel. Some downtown stations have water up to the ceiling, and the MTA will not have a firm timeline for service restoration until a full assessment of the system can be conducted.
It’s clear though that as service comes back, it will do so in a piecemeal way. “We should look at this in part and not in whole. If there are parts we can get up, we’ll get them up,” Lhota said. The MTA should have another update later today when a the assessment has been completed, and I’ll update as more information comes in.