NYC Subway System "Devastated"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 30 2012 11:51 AM

Planes, Trains and Automobiles in Sandy's Wake

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A man walks past a barricaded subway entrance near Battery Park during the arrival of Hurricane Sandy

Photograph by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

After pretty much staying put since most major modes of transportation were shut down in advance of Sandy's approach, New Yorkers—as well as those trying to get to the region—are wondering when things will start moving again. Here's what we know, so far, with an overall note that there seems to be no timeframe emerging yet for the restoration of travel services to the Empire State, with the exception of partial bus service starting at 5 p.m. this evening.

Trains: Amtrak will decide later Tuesday whether to restore partial service to to the Northeast on Wednesday, according to a statement released Tuesday morning. Service right now is suspended in most of the Northeast, and as far south as Raleigh, N.C.

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NYC Subway: MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement that New York's mass transit system has "never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night." All seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded, and crews are still assessing damage. Mayor Bloomberg said during Tuesday morning's press conference that New Yorkers should consider public transportation closed "until further notice," but Gov. Cuomo and the MTA have indicated that partial bus service (with fees waived) will be up and running at 5 p.m Tuesday. Bloomberg had declined to give a timeframe for restored service, but hinted that crews were aiming to have nearly full bus service up on Wednesday. UPDATE: The MTA has released more information on the state of the subway system, though we still don't have an estimate as to when it'll be back online. Here's how they described the situation as of Tuesday afternoon:

Damage has been extremely heavy in downtown Manhattan where several subway lines converge. The South Ferry station is filled track to ceiling with water as are several of the subway tunnels...Once water levels subside, the water must be pumped out and the tunnels thoroughly inspected by engineers. Subway trains and buses must be inspected along with 5,600 buses, 6,200 subway cars, 600 miles of tracks and 468 subway stations.

We'll post any major news concerning the restoration of New York's subway service, but check alert.mta.info for further updates.

NYC Cabs: In an attempt to keep at least some New Yorkers moving, Bloomberg said that livery and black cars are allowed to ignore the usual rules and pick up passengers off the street, and yellow cabs will be able to pick up additional passengers even if the car is already occupied, while the transportation system is down.

Flights: Runways are flooded at all New York area airports. Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday that LaGuardia will remain closed through Wednesday due to "extensive damage," while JFK is likely to be open Wednesday. So far, over 10,000 flights have already been grounded by Sandy. According to the Wall Street Journal, JFK, LaGuardia, Teterboro, and Newark Liberty International Airport have all been closed since Monday and service remains suspended Tuesday.

Bridges/Tunnels: Bloomberg told New Yorkers to "stay off the roads" as crews work to clear roads and open New York-area bridges and tunnels. The Lincoln Tunnel is open, according to Port Authority. So is the Tappan Zee Bridge and N.Y. State Bridge Authority bridges, according to Gov. Cuomo's office. All MTA bridges are closed to everyone but emergency workers and vehicles. There are some reports out there that the RFK bridge is opened, but the MTA is saying those reports are false. UPDATE: More bridges have opened up in the NY metro area, namely the Robert F. Kennedy, Verrazano-Narrows, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson bridges, the MTA announced earlier this afternoon.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.