(UPDATED) NY MTA: Some, Not All Buses Back, No Timetable for Subways

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 12:05 PM

10:11am: A beheaded subway entrance. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

UPDATE: Tuesday 4:50 PM: The MTA's Charles Seaton says not all bus routes will be running Wednesday morning, that limited routes will be running. Those will be announced later Tuesday evening.

UPDATE Tuesday 11:50 AM: The latest on MTA and NYC transpo is always at our Transit Tracker.

Some bus service will begin at 5 p.m. on a Sunday schedule.

There is no timetable yet for subway service resumption. Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a joint press conference Tuesday morning they hope to have full bus service restored Wednesday morning. No fares will be charged through Wednesday.

Portions of subway service will return in pieces as it is able. Buses will be used to connect fractured sections.

Flooding could keep east river crossings shut for some time. The Clark, Steinway, Rutgers and Strawberry Street tubes under the East River are all flooded. Lhota said pumps are clearing the Joralemon Street tube and will have it dry in a few hours.

No buses or trains were damaged because of effective shut down preparations. Assessment of the extent of the damage on the tracks "will take a little bit more time than we thought," Lhota said.

Lhotoa said flooding at the South Street subway station was "literally up to the ceiling."

Pumping is underway in the Battery Tunnel.

Metro-North has no power from 59th Street to Croton.


POSTED Tuesday 9:05 AM: MTA chair Joe Lhota spoke to WNYC's Soterios Johnson Monday morning about the extent of the damage to the subway system. Listen to the interview below, and read the partial transcript of his remarks.

Lhota said he knew last night there was a problem. "Last night I was downtown and it was pretty obvious...I saw the water surge coming up, realizing that the systems were going to be affected. Our electrical systems, our alarm systems, tell us when there's water down there. They basically shut off. It's an automatic system...they would only shut off if there was water down there."

Johnson asked Lhota just how bad the flooding was. "The assessment is ongoing. Dawn is just cracking right now," Lhota said, adding that the sunlight would help with the assessment process, "which is going to be ongoing. We'll report back to New Yorkers later in the day as to what we have assessed, and determine how long it's going to take to get the system back up and running. One thing I do want everyone to focus on is the fact of how dynamic and how robust the New York City subway system is." And New Yorkers need to understand: "We're going to be flexible, we're going to try to be creative. Those systems that can be up and running, those portions of the system that can be up and running -- I want them up and running as quickly as possible. Then use our bus service and our buses -- re-route them in such a way that they supplement and complement each other. And that's what I mean by creativity: if there's a portion of  the system that's going to take longer to repair, that doesn't mean the whole system is down...we're New Yorkers, we adapt very very well."

Johnson asked if salt water had flooded the subways. "I can't imagine that it's fresh water, it's going to be at best brackish, but for the most part it's salt," Lhota said. "Water and electricity never mix properly, but when you add salt to it, once the water is gone, the salt leaves a film...the way electronics work on the subway system is two pieces of metal running together conducting electricity. And it there's anything in between those two pieces of metal -- like film left over from salt -- that needs to be cleaned off because the connections need to be clear and straightforward for us to manage the process of making the subway system safe."

Johnson asked Lhota what his worst-case scenario for restoration of subway service. "I literally can't answer that until later today," Lhota said. "his happened overnight, it's been ongoing, the assessment's been ongoing, and we've called...all of our workers backs." "Are we talking days or weeks?" asked Johnson. "It's unfair to me -- I'm going to  try to get this up and running as quickly as I possibly can," said Lhota. "I really don't want to be tied down to answering that question the way you've asked it because it'll be something that will linger out would be a scientific wild guess on my part to answer it that way and I just need to get better information and then determine it."

As to when the bridges and tunnels will be open: "I literally just sent a text message to Pat Foye, the head of the Port Authority," said Lhota. "He and I need to figure out how to open up the bridges, how to open up the tunnels. The wind has calmed down significantly...the tunnels, if they're dry, the assessment can be relatively straightforward. [But] the bridges, given the extent of the wind, we're going to need a couple hours having the engineers assess that there's no damage to any of the bridges. We experienced at the Triborough - RFK bridge wind gusts over 100 miles an hour last night. That's extraordinary. We've got to make sure that the integrity of the bridge is there. I'm confident that it is, but out of an abundance of caution we're going to need at least two hours for our engineers to go through and assess to make sure that the bridges are safe. I think they're safe -- in fact I'm almost positive they're safe -- but out of an abundance of caution, we will do the work we need to do."

Johnson asked about the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter rail lines. "First off," said Lhota, "we're trying to count the number of trees that are downed on Metro North and it's going to be in the hundreds...we're going up in a helicopter today to assess the entire system from the air to determine where we have our problems. The Long Island Rail Road experienced an enormous amount of flooding all through the South Shore, the Babylon branch all the way out to ...Montauk. We're assessing that right now and will determine how far we can go." He continued: "I am very worried about power....the power is a problem. It's an electric subway system for the most part. Some of our commuter rail system is electric as well, some it's diesel, or a combination...we need electricity to run. So this power problem in the tri-state area is significant for getting us up and running on the commuter rail front...the power on Metro North is down from 59th Street in Manhattan all the way up to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson line, all the way up to New Haven, Connecticut on the New Haven line. We have no power on the system at this time."

In terms of the actual conditions of the rails: "We're going to have to evaluate it," Lhota said. "We're going to have to walk ths system to determine the extent of it and we're also going to have to cut up all the trees that are in the way and get them out of the way."

With reporting by Alex Goldmark



Comments [9]

Home restoration services connecticut

I am agree with you Mr.Toby Crane because fuel rates increasing that's why bus rates also increasing.

Apr. 24 2013 11:37 AM
Toby Crane

The bus rates are really high in most towns right now because the fuel rates are high as well. Thanks for sharing this information.

Jan. 30 2013 10:52 AM

Because Coney Island station close on B82 bus route too many people to ride to Bay Parkway D line.Could MTA add shuttle bus on route Coney Island to Bay Parkway?

Nov. 05 2012 01:14 PM
Ed Townes

It was great that Morning Edition (local segment) interviewed the MTA head on Monday, but you guys and gals need to go after him with a vengeance -

"No timetable" strains credulity and really is the old style "We'll tell you when we feel like it," even if the economic impact of all this uncertainty is enormous.

And I know that news-gathering is extra tough under these circumstances, but I thought I heard that in the absence (likely prolonged) of Bklyn to Manhattan service due to tunnel flooding, buses would be enlisted.

Was that a "head fake?" or bogus rumor or did the MTA change its mind?

At least the old head-of-the-MTA conveyed real expertise re "transportation." I'm getting the feeling that Mr. Lhota was chosen by politicians and is way over his head at this point. Plus, it doesn't help that Mike and Andy love on-air time, each shooting from the lip, semi-automatic style. Cuomo's levee proposal?! - not a joke, as it was reported, but just what you'd expect from that clown.

What about schools & transportation - NOW - or at least 72 hours from now?!

Oct. 31 2012 10:31 AM

I second Davids comment... Can someone / ANYONE please let us know when or if any buses will be going from Brooklyn to Manhattan. We live in Brooklyn but need to get to work and other business matters ASAP !!!

Oct. 30 2012 10:03 PM
Norma Gelmis

I pray to god that all buses and trains will be back in service hopefully at the ending of the week. cause think about it? tons and tons of people through out the boroughs the only way they can get around places is the trains and buses including cabs. i live in carol gardens which is walking distance but i still go in to the city. I hope all goes well and things will be back on schedule eventually

Oct. 30 2012 08:45 PM

Can you guys find out if they will be running any buses between Brooklyn and Manhattan? There are no regular routes over the bridges, but it's going to be pretty useless if all of us Brooklyn commuters can't get into Manhattan.

Oct. 30 2012 08:17 PM

I live in Downtown Brooklyn and was checking via Exit Strategy to see if the bus that goes to City Hall in Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge still runs. I was surprised to see that all buses from Brooklyn to Manhattan goes via the Battery Tunnel, which is now flooded. There used to be a bus that goes to Manhattan via the Williamsburg bridge. This is gone as well. Maybe this is a good time for the MTA to reassess their decision in discontinuing buses that goes from the boros to Manhattan.

Oct. 30 2012 07:22 PM

Any chance of the MTA allowing access to bus route maps via its website? All that's there now is a statement about service outages.

Oct. 30 2012 06:55 PM

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