(LISTEN) MTA Head Joe Lhota: How We Fixed the Flooded Subway

MTA chairman Joe Lhota (L) speaking with an MTA worker. (Photo by MTA via flickr)

Listen to the conversation with WNYC's Amy Eddings below.

(New York, NY) Just one week after Hurricane Sandy turned New York City's subway tunnels into something out of Waterworld, service is back up and running on almost every line. But how?

MTA chairman Joe Lhota told WNYC the credit belonged to the agency's employees. "The workers of the Transit Authority...I will tell you I've never seen a bunch of people work so hard to get the system back up and running."

And here's how they did it: "They've been cleaning [signals] by hand, literally," he said. "First you had to pump out the water, then you had to wipe down the mud that was left down there, then you had to literally wipe down the rail, and then fix each and every one of the switches by cleaning them and making sure there was no salt to prevent the electric conductivity."

Lhota said after that process, the MTA then powered up the system and ran test trains before resuming service.

"We're making progress every day," he said, adding that the rest of the lines would be operating "soon."

"That's our intent, to be able to...get the L later in the week, get the G later in the week, getting all the other trains later in the week. We want to get the #1 train eventually down to Rector Street, we'll try to do that by the middle of the week...inch by inch, rail by rail, we're going to get there," he said on WNYC radio.

Later in the conversation Lhota told WNYC's Amy Eddings -- who relies on the G train to get to work: "You'll get the G soon. Can't tell you exactly when, but you'll get the G real soon."

What probably will take a little longer: retooling New York city's infrastructure to withstand future floods. "There are some more substantive things that need to be done," said Lhota, and "not just for the subway system...it should be a concerted effort on the part of the city and the state and taking the best minds in the architectural world and the water mitigation world and figure out what exactly can we do to prevent this from happening again?"

Any effort to prevent flooding, he said, "It's not just going to be limited to the subways. It shouldn't be."

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