New York Braces for Chaotic Commute Monday Morning Following Hurricane

By Julie Shapiro on November 4, 2012 4:54pm | Updated on November 4, 2012 7:56pm

NEW YORK — New Yorkers are heading back to work Monday morning — but officials warned not to expect an easy commute.

The MTA is bracing for huge crowds on a subway system that is still limping toward recovery following Hurricane Sandy, with several train lines down and all others running fewer trains than usual.

Despite the gas shortage, drivers are expected to pour into the city as well, though the flooded Holland Tunnel, Queens-Midtown Tunnel and Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel remain closed.

"It's not going to be normal tomorrow, and people should expect that," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Since the Rockaways are still cut off from public transit, the MTA is suspending tolls on the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, Cuomo said. Customers who have paid the tolls via E-ZPass since the hurricane will receive a refund.

Workers are still bailing out water from the tunnels the L and R trains use to travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn, so parts of those lines will be closed during Monday morning's commute, as will the entire G train line, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said.

The MTA's main focus Sunday was inspecting and repairing the A/C tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, which is now free of water and could soon be ready for trains.

"We're trying to work as fast as we can on that," Lhota said. "They're our next priority."

The MTA found more corrosion than expected after subway tunnels were inundated with saltwater, and Lhota warned that more problems could pop up during the commute. The system will run at less than 80 percent capacity on Monday, with trains on the busiest lines running every five to 10 minutes.

"I just ask everyone to be understanding, and also try to think about flex time and try to leave a little bit earlier or a little bit later," Lhota said in a statement.

He later told reporters, "We are concerned that if we over-tax the system, it could come down. The system is very fragile."

The MTA has restored service between Manhattan and Brooklyn on the 2, 3, 4, 5, D, F, M, J and Q lines, and 7 trains are running from Queens to Midtown Manhattan. The Franklin Avenue Shuttle is running as well.

While the N and R trains are running in parts of Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn, there is no service on those lines in Manhattan south of 34th Street.

The 1 train is running south as far as 14th Street but Lhota hopes to extend it down to Rector Street by Monday morning.

The A train is not running to the Rockaways or north of 168th Street in Manhattan.

"My goal right now is to get as much up and running as possible," Lhota said.

All of the MTA's bridges are open, but the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge to the Rockaways may close periodically for emergency vehicles.

The Staten Island Ferry will run on a regular schedule Monday and the Staten Island Railway is up and running as well.

PATH service is still suspended because of flooding and power outages.

Metro-North and the Long Island Railroad will offer a modified train schedule on most lines, with the latest updates on the MTA's website.

East River Ferry service resumed on Saturday except for the stop in Greenpoint at India Street, but officials hoped to restore that stop by Monday morning.

New Jersey Transit has begun running trains into Penn Station, but service remains suspended on the Bergen Line, Pascack Valley Line, Montclair-Boonton Line and the Morris & Essex Lines.

Amtrak has resumed some service between Washington, D.C. and Boston through New York Penn Station, and Empire Service to Albany-Rensselaer is operating on a modified schedule.

Alternate side parking is suspended on Monday for storm recovery and on Tuesday for Election Day.

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