As the MTA begins to address the fact that water infiltrated the subway system during the storm surge from Sandy on Monday night, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota issued a statement on efforts to restore subway and other transit service. There is currently no timeline for our trains and buses to come back, but crews are working on the system now. Lhota does not mince his words, and his assessment is grave.
The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots.
As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The [Brooklyn-Battery] Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water.
We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery.
Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.
The subways last flooded in mid-December of 1992 when all service was suspended and only three tunnels filled with water. Some service was restored the same day, but the L train, for instance, was out of service for several days. It’s too early to tell how serious the damage from Sandy is, but all indications are that it was worse than the 1992 storm. Some service over the city’s bridges could come back soon, but it’s going to be a while before the subways are back at full strength.