Urban Fold

The One Form of Public Transit That Sandy Didn't Shut Down

Though fewer in number, taxis had no competition with subways, buses, and commuter rail all shut down in advance of the Monday night storm. Matt Flegenheimer continues his update on how Hurricane Sandy affected pubic transit and roads in New York.

If you could find a taxi, destinations were limited due to flooded roadways. Destinations in and out of Manhattan were severely restricted due to bridge and tunnel closures, though there was little need to go to the three area airports that had canceled most arriving and incoming flights.

"By midmorning (on Monday, Oct. 29), much of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive was underwater, shuttering 63 blocks' worth of northbound lanes. By the afternoon, the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnels were closed, too. And by nightfall, Hurricane Sandy had nearly isolated the island of Manhattan: the East River crossings like the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, were closed at 7 p.m., as were the George Washington, Verrazano-Narrows, Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges, among others.

Even with the Lincoln and Queens-Midtown Tunnels remaining open Monday night, it was clearly the transportation system's most helpless day."

"There's no place for the water to go," said Judie Glave, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. "We're pumping water into the river, and it's coming back."

"Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the transportation authority, warned at a news briefing on Monday that the expected storm surge posed a significant threat to subway switches and the electronic signaling system."

"The general ability to run the system and keep it safe is in jeopardy," Mr. Lhota said.

At The Wall Street Journal, Ted Mann takes a closer look at the damage salt water can inflict on the city's subway system, and the laborious process to get it up and running again. At a late morning news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg estimated that the subway system will remain closed for "a good four or five days."

Full Story: Taxis, but Not as Many as Usual, Are Among Only Options


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