Some subways return for first time since Sandy
Portions of more than a dozen subways began running Thursday morning for the first time since Hurricane Sandy slammed New York City, and police blocked cars with less than three occupants from entering Manhattan in an effort to speed up travel in Gotham.
Fourteen of the MTA's 23 routes returned at 6 a.m. Thursday, the agency said, with none running below 34th street in Manhattan because there was no power restored downtown. Shuttle buses were running from Brooklyn to Manhattan to make up for the lack of service, as were some sections of the LIRR and Metro-North.
Traffic moved slowly through many parts of Manhattan, particularly in areas where traffic lights were still out of service.
"Crowding on many transit lines is intense today, as the MTA helps to bring our region back. Please hang in there -- we'll get through this!" the MTA tweeted Thursday morning.
Riders reported large crowds at subway and shuttle bus stops, but many said traffic was moving faster than it had on Wednesday.
"This isn't as bad as I thought it would be,” said Evan Smith, 27, as he took a downtown No. 6 train. “I thought it would be more crowded."
Yuca Em, of Astoria, said it took her about 30 minutes to take the N train to work in Midtown – a far quicker commute than the two hours she spent on a bus on Wednesday.
“I could sit down,” said Em, 31. “There weren't that many people. I was surprised."
"It was better than yesterday,” she added. “That was horrible."
Passengers trying to get on buses from Brooklyn into Manhattan said there were long lines to get on board.
"Have at least a 2hr wait for the shuttle bus to Manhattan, line is out of control," tweeted @KelpiePMS.
But many, such as Allison Soroka, 22, of Williamsburg, said the service was as good as people could expect.
"The subways are flooded. They’re literally flooded. You can’t just expect everything to be fine a day later," said Soroka, who took a bus along the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan from the Hewes Street J train stop around 11 .m. Thursday.
"Considering what a wreck the lower part of the city is, I think they’re doing as well as they could," she said.
Others were less forgiving.
"This town ain’t ready for no catastrophe," said Ron Peters, 41, who was aboard the same bus.
"I know a lot of this is out of people’s hands (with regard to the MTA), but we just can’t handle it," he said. "They need to be serving their customers much better."
An MTA spokeswoman said subway service was running well, but that the shuttle bus from the Barclay's Center was had overcrowding.
"There are just a lot of people, and traffic is really backed up," she said, adding, "The other two bus routes are doing pretty well."
People commuting from New Jersey by bus said their trip was fairly easy, considering trains weren’t running into Manhattan.
"I'm actually surprised at how quickly it went," said Roy Suter, of Hillsdale, N.J., after taking a Community Coach bus into the Port Authority.
Cops enforced HOV rules enacted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg prohibiting drivers from entering Manhattan with less than three passengers to help ease street traffic. Those rules were suspended for taxi and livery drivers, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Traffic was backed up for several blocks near the Queens entrance to the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge as cops checked cars and drivers repeatedly honked their horns.
(WIth Ivan Pereira, Julie Gordon and Tim Herrera)