Pedestrians and cyclists flood the Brooklyn Bridge promenade during the 1980 transit strike. Wouldn't this picture look more balanced if one of those motor vehicle lanes was filled with people on bikes instead?
As the flood waters recede from New York City, it looks like the effects of Hurricane Sandy are going to linger in the city’s subway tunnels. MTA Chair Joe Lhota has called the storm the most devastating disaster to strike the subway system in its 108-year history.
All seven subway tunnels under the East River have flooded. So have several rail yards, though the MTA removed rolling stock to higher ground, preventing damage to subway cars. The exact extent of the damage to tracks, signals, and switches was unknown as of this morning, with Lhota telling WNYC that the MTA would have a firmer assessment later today.
At some platforms, the flooding is all the way up to the ceiling, Lhota said at an 11:30 press conference. The agency is currently in the process of pumping out the tunnels. While the subway system is out of service and gradually comes back online, Lhota said, “We’re going to use the bus system to complement and supplement” the subways.
Right now there is no definite timetable for restoring the subways. Speaking to the press this morning, Mayor Bloomberg said that he hoped some buses would be running this afternoon, with most bus service potentially resuming tomorrow. “Getting transit up and running is going to take more time and a lot of patience,” he said. “The damages they face really are enormous.”
At the 11:30 presser, Governor Cuomo said that the process of getting trains up and running will be “more about restoration of parts of the subway system first.” After the whole transit system is back online, he said, there will need to be a “long-term reconstruction effort,” referring to the region-wide process of recovery from the storm and flood damage.
For the immediate future, it seems, NYC will be without the main arteries of its transportation system, which means the city is going to have to wring more efficiency out of its surface streets.