Monday, August 29, 2011

Post-Hurricane Irene Transit Recovery Nothing Less Than Remarkable

I oozed a lot of ink Sunday complaining that New York overreacted to Hurricane Irene with its unprecedented shutdown of the largest public transportation system in the nation: subways, buses, Long Island Railroad, PATH trains and Metro-North.

I bitched heartily that after the storm had completed its swath of metro NYC, it was time for Mayor Michael Bloomberg—whom I am no fan of—to get the city moving again, as thousands were trapped in mandatory shelters and had no way to navigate the metro region Monday morning.

And now it's time for me to shut my flapping gums and congratulate MTA for a job well done (this time). Subway service resumed at 5:40 a.m. Monday and by afternoon, all lines were restored with only limited delays.

The Wall Street Journal reports that by late morning Sunday, subway crews began inspecting on foot 660 miles of subway tracks, 468 stations and 6,300 cars. ‪To bring the subways back on line, workers had to pump out flood waters pooled on tracks and remove any debris. Once tracks were clear, drivers returned 2,000 subway cars to their terminals, then conducted simulated runs throughout the system during overnight hours to prepare for Monday.

Meanwhile, city buses were back on the roads, except where detours made navigation impossible; and PATH trains and the Staten Island Ferry resumed regular service at 4 a.m. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports—which canceled 9,000+ flights over the weekend—opened to arriving flights before 7 a.m., with departures ensuing at noon.

But all was not hunky dory for transportation serving metro New York. Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit commuter trains and, not surprisingly, LIRR remained closed because of flooding and track damage.

And poor Amtrak. There were no trains between Philadelphia and Boston, which I maintain is pitiful. But I can't blame Bloomberg for that one, can I?

Mayor Mike suspended all subway and bus service as of noon Saturday as the city braced for Hurricane Irene. While North Carolina—and, surprisingly, states north of New York—sustained the worst damage, with massive power outages and flooding, the much ballyhooed storm failed to deliver the catastrophic blow in New York that the national media hyped for some 48 hours. But for the most part, we made it through the rain. Monday in New York was a glorious day.