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Mass transit service slowly returning: Officials

People wait for buses on 6th Avenue in

People wait for buses on 6th Avenue in New York on Wednesday as New Yorkers cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Two New York airports and Wall Street reopen, but the crippled subway system, traffic-clogged roads and large areas still without power pose a daunting hurdle before the Big Apple can declare itself back to normal. (Credit: Getty)

Mass transit and traffic in New York City was still snarled Wednesday afternoon because of the damage left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake, though officials were optimistic that travel would get better as service slowly increased throughout the city over the next day.

Subways, Trains and Buses

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the MTA would resume some service on its commuter rail lines at 2 p.m. Metro-North’s Harlem line will run from North While Plains to Grand Central Terminal, officials said, though details of LIRR service were not immediately available. MTA officials said they hoped to have even more service running by Thursday’s rush hour.

Cuomo said "limited" subway service would start Thursday on 14 of 23 lines. MTA Chief Joe Lhota said no subways would run below 42nd Street because of power problems, but Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said the MTA would test the B, D, N, Q and R trains over the Manhattan bridge on Wednesday night. "If satisfied with results, they will have limited service tomorrow," he tweeted. The MTA did not immediately offer specific details of what segments of trains would run.

The transit agency, which said it suffered damage worse than anything  in its history, brought back free bus service “as close to a normal weekday schedule as possible.” But New Yorkers took to social media sites to complain that buses were crawling through traffic or that many were skipping stops because they were too crowded.

PATH service was still down, according to the Port Authority, which did not say when it would resume.

Roads

The Queens Midtown, Holland and Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnels were still closed Wednesday because of massive flooding, officials said, but the Lincoln Tunnel was open. Most of the city’s bridges had reopened by Wednesday morning, except for the southbound Cross Bay Bridge, which was still closed. Hundreds of New Yorkers gave up on trying to drive over the Ed Koch-Queensboro bridge, and were seen walking into Manhattan.

Traffic was particularly slow in downtown Manhattan, where traffic lights were still without power. In Midtown, West 57th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue was still closed Wednesday morning, below a luxury apartment building where a construction crane partially collapsed Monday afternoon, leaving its beam dangling off the side of the building. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday that officials and the construction company hoped to tie the crane down to the building at some point on Wednesday.

Yellow cabs were authorized to pick up several passengers to share a ride while subway service was down, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said. Livery cabs that are normally prohibited from accepting street hails are permitted to do so. The TLC did not say how long those rules would be in place for.

Airports and Ferries

JFK and Newark Airports were open, but the Port Authority warned that carriers were only providing limited service. LaGuardia Airport remained closed on Wednesday.

Staten Island and East River Ferry service had not resumed on Wednesday afternoon, officials said. NY Waterway said it had resumed service on Wednesday morning.

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