New Yorkers preparing for a hellish commute Monday after Hurricane Irene hit the city with a weaker-than-feared punch got some good news Sunday night: The MTA is restoring subway service starting at 6 a.m. Monday.
Straphangers were advised to expect fewer trains than normal, along with the crowding that will inevitably entail, but to expect better and more frequent service as the day goes on. Still, there were some important exceptions:
- 3 trains will operate between 137th Street/City College and New Lots Avenue; substitute bus service will be provided between Harlem 148th Street and 135th Street connecting with the 2 train.
- C trains suspended; A trains will make all local stops from 207th St. to Lefferts Blvd.
No service in the Rockaways because of severe flooding. (Rockaway Blvd. to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park)
- 6 trains runs local in the Bronx
- 7 trains run local
- S Franklin Avenue Shuttle Suspended
- N trains terminate at Kings Highway. Shuttle bus service between Kings Highway and Stillwell Terminal.
"The MTA will begin resumption of subway service Monday morning. I applaud the good work of the thousands of MTA professionals, National Guard and first responders for their advanced planning. Suspending service allowed the MTA to secure equipment, thus expediting the return to service," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Sunday night.
Added MTA chief Jay Walder: 'We still have a lot of work to do in parts of our 5,000-mile territory that were hit extremely hard by the storm, but we can now see very visible progress." Metro-North will be shut on Monday after sustaining widespread damage, but the LIRR is expecting a "significant restoration" of service.
Still, frustrations and hiccups will be inevitable as the system returns to life Monday after being shut in advance of a storm for the first time in history.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was blunt about the forecast for today's commute.
"It’s gonna be tough," hizzoner said.
Walder said crews were walking tracks in search of damage and making repairs as part of a mult-tiered process of vetting the system.
Sensitive to complaints that the city's response to Irene was merely a storm of hype, Bloomberg said the bottom line was this: better safe than sorry.
"They should look in the mirror. They are alive today," Bloomberg said.
Aside from transit woes, low-lying areas sustained serious flooding, and in one dramatic case, the FDNY rescued dozens of trapped people in Staten Island. Some 9,600 people spent the night in shelters, and thousands more lost power. About 650 trees were uprooted, but that number was sure to rise.
"All in all, we are in pretty good shape because of the exhaustive steps we took to prepare for whatever came our way," Bloomberg said.
FEMA will assess damage and see if the city is eligible for federal aid. Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway said it was too early to tell the economic impact on the city.
Almost forgotten amid the commute concerns was Irene’s historic landfall about 9 a.m. on Coney Island, as a weakened 65-mph tropical storm. That was the first time the eye of a cyclone directly touched the five boroughs since 1893, when a far more severe storm washed away an island off the Rockaways.
Such horrors weren’t on the minds of many New Yorkers Sunday, though. Their chief concern was simply getting to work.
"You know, I'm sure the MTA is trying their hardest, but this is a real mess," said Martin Vance, 43, of Bushwick. "I don't know how anyone can expect people to get to work."
(with Tim Herrera)
Power outage numbers for the five boroughs:
Staten Island: 20,017