Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Eight days ago, the subway system shut down. Seven days ago, it suffered the worst devastation in its history. All seven tunnels under the East River were flooded.
By Monday morning's commute, most of the subways were running under the East River. The R and the L were not (more on that in a minute).
By Sunday night, the MTA had restored all of the numbered lines across the East River (2, 3, 4, 5 & 7), as well as many lettered lines. This morning, at the last minute, the A, C and E were also connected. The #1 train ran all the way downtown to Chambers Street.
The link was to the restored subway map.
(Lhota, by the way, is a Republican -- a former Deputy Mayor under Rudy Giuliani.)
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg says MTA workers have been working "around the clock" to replace signals corroded by salt water. Lisberg said increased headways -- or time between trains -- was due to reduced power and signalling issues caused by damaged signals.
Commuters, for the most part, were patient as they crowded onto train cars that were running about a third as frequently as usual. In two-and-a-half hours of riding the rails, I didn't hear any sighing, moaning, or cursing at the MTA, or at fellow passengers, a frequent accompaniment to the squeal of the trains on a morning commute.
WNYC's Jim O'Grady reports a similar amount of patience -- for now -- at the J train in Williamsburg, now the backstop for both the L and G. Jim describes the lines as "immense," but says straphangers were so relieved to be able to get into Manhattan that frustration was far from the boiling point.
But at least one straphanger was deterred. "Holy God," he said, seeing the subway line. "Looks like I'm working from home today.
On Sunday, rider Rachel Tillman applauded outright when the F train re-connected under the East River. "Good!' she exclaimed, giddily, "It's going all the way. When I heard the announcement I thought it was a mistake. Once we reached Jay Street-Metrotech I realized it was going all the way. It makes me very happy."