NEW YORK CITY — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will restore several subways lines on Thursday, the first phase of getting the expansive train system back in motion following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
And to welcome the straphangers back, the MTA has suspended all fares on subways, buses, MetroNorth and the Long Island Railroad Thursday and Friday as trains stutter back into limited service.
"We hope it will encourage people to take mass transit," Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Wednesday night, acknowledging that traffic had plunged into chaos on Wednesday. "Traffic in Manhattan today was very, very high. And the gridlock was dangerous, frankly."
MTA Chair Joseph Lhota also asked commuters to be patient as the agency struggles to restore service.
"There will be crowding," he said, advising commuters to leave early or late to try to ease the rush.
"Just bear with us as we get back from what I've described as the most devastating event to ever happen to the MTA," he added. "We're going to get you where you need to be."
The MTA said 14 of the system's 23 lines would be partly restored at 6 a.m. Thursday. A map detailing available lines was made available by the MTA.
► 1 trains will run locally between 242nd Street and Times Square.
► 2 trains will run from 241st Street to Times Square. Express service will run between 96th Street and Times Square.
► 4 trains will run locally in two sections, between Woodlawn and Grand Central and between Borough Hall and New Lots Avenue.
► 5 trains will run express between Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue.
► 6 trains will run locally between Pelham Bay Park and Grand Central.
► The 42nd Street shuttle train will run between Times Square and Grand Central.
► A trains will run locally in two sections: Between 168th Street and Penn Station, and between Jay Street-MetroTech and Lefferts Blvd.
► D trains will run in two sections: locally between 205th Street and Herald Square, and between Atlantic Avenue and Bay Parkway with express stops between Pacific Street and 36th Street.
► F trains will run locally in two sections: between 179th Street and Herald Square, and between Jay Street-MetroTech and Avenue X.
► J trains will run locally between Jamaica Center and Hewes Street.
► L trains will run locally between Broadway Junction and Rockaway Parkway.
► M trains will run locally between Myrtle Avenue-Broadway and Metropolitan Avenue.
► N trains will run locally between Ditmars Blvd. and Herald Square.
► R trains will run locally beween Jay Street-MetroTech and 95th Street.
► The 3, 7, B, C, E, G, Q and the Franklin Avenue and Rockaway Parkway shuttle trains remain out.
There will be no service south of 34th Street in Manhattan, however, because the area remains without power.
Shuttle buses will run from key subway stations in the outer boroughs to Manhattan, then making stops north on Third Avenue and south on Lexington Avenue. Those stations include:
► Between Barclays Center and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Manhattan Bridge
► Between Jay Street-MetroTech and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Manhattan Bridge
► Between Hewes Street and 57th Street-Lexington Avenue via the Williamsburg Bridge
Long Island Rail Road service was partly restored at 2 p.m.
► Service between Brooklyn and Jamaica was running hourly.
► Service between Jamaica and Penn Station was anticipated to resume Wednesday night.
► The Ronkonkoma Branch was expected to resume hourly service Thursday.
► The Port Washington Branch was expected to resume hourly service Thursday.
Metro-North Railroad will restore additional service from Grand Central Terminal to Stamford and Mount Kisco on Thursday.
"New Yorkers have been great through this," Cuomo said, "and we're going to need patience and tolerance."
Lhota said more service would be restored on Friday and Saturday.
"Our main goal is to get our 8.5 millions customers...back to the system as soon as possible," he said.
Cuomo said three of the seven tunnels underneath the East River have been pumped free of water. The water has also receded from some of the subway stations.
But federal and local agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are still working to "dewater" the system.
"We're using every possible resource we can," Cuomo said. "Five miles of tunnels filled to the platforms: You can imagine the volume of water that has to be removed."
Cuomo said the joint effort is authorities' top priority.
"Getting the water out of the tunnels is one of the main orders of business right now," he said. "Literally on a day-by-day basis, the MTA is working through this."
Buses, which were phased back into motion Tuesday evening, are running at full service, Cuomo said. Lhota added that the MTA is considering dedicating more bus lanes to alleviate some of the bumper-to-bumper traffic that clogged city streets and roadways during rush hour Wednesday.
The authority shut down the entire transit system Sunday in preparation for the storm.
"New Yorkers have been through dark times before," Cuomo said Wednesday. "We know struggle, and we know crisis. But we always come back, and come stronger.
"We're going to learn from this," he added.
Lhota said the price tag for the destruction was still rising because of lost revenue and overtime.
"We're not getting our revenue, which is $18 million a day," Lhota said.
When asked about overtime costs, Lhota said he couldn't give an exact amount.
"It's all hands on deck," he said, referring to MTA workers. "I don't know the answer to that question."
Reporters Aidan Gardiner and Jill Colvin contributed to this story.