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Bloomberg: It could be up to 5 days before subways are back

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New York Tuesday was reeling from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, and mass transit could take up to four or five days to begin running again after the shut-down, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The MTA closed subway and bus service Sunday night in anticipation of Sandy, and though limited bus service is set to start Tuesday at 5 p.m., many subway tunnels remain flooded and it could be nearly a week until trains start running.

“MTA’s CEO Joe Lhota has described this as the worst disaster the agency has seen in the 108 years the subway has been running,” Bloomberg said Tuesday. “Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous.”

“There is extensive flooding in all under-river subway tunnels. Subway yards where rail trains are typically stored also flooded,” Bloomberg said. “Public transpiration remains closed until later notice [and] there’s no firm timeline for the reactivation of bus or train service.”

Bloomberg added that public schools will be closed Wednesday, but city government will try to remain open.

In a separate news conference, Lhota said the storm "wreaked havoc" on the subway system, adding that several tunnels and tubes were still underwater Tuesday, adding that water is “literally up to the ceiling" in some downtown Manhattan subway stations. He also said that subway cars and buses were luckily unharmed by the storm, and that the subway system would likely return "in parts," with "creative" bus routes supplementing missing service.

"If there are parts of the subway system that we can get up, we will get them up," Lhota said. "We will complement them with our bus service as well."

Bloomberg also authorized cabbies to pick up several passengers to share a ride while subway service was down, and livery cabs that are normally prohibited from accepting street hails are permitted to do so.

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