The A train makes first run in Rockaways since Sandy
A vintage IND subway train rolled through the Rockaways Thursday to celebrate the A train's return to the peninsula seven months after Superstorm Sandy struck.
By noon, straphangers had an A train with regular service, which cost more than $75 million to restore. More than 30,000 people rely on A train service in the Rockaways daily.
"Today, we get the people of the Rockaways all the way home," said Peter Rogoff, the Federal Transit Administrator.
The fanfare around the restoration of service also included cheering MTA and contract workers, a Motown singing group wearing A line T-shirts and cookies decorated with the train's symbol.
MTA and contractor crews faced a daunting task to get the line back in service for the summer, such as the removal of 3,000 tons of debris, replacement of 270,000 feet of signal cable, and repairing the Broad Channel and Beach 116th Street stations.
"The numbers are staggering," Fred Smith, a senior vice president and chief engineer for New York City Transit, said of the repair effort.
Smith said the subway shutdown in the Rockaways allowed workers to make repairs nearly around the clock.
"That enabled us to do well more than a year of work in seven months," Smith said.
While subway service has been restored to the Rockaways, there is more work that needs to be done to a line that sustained an estimated $650 million in damages.
Still, residents were pleased that they will no longer be stuck in commutes that can stretch up to three hours.
"People in the Rockaways really needed it," said Danny Ruscillo, a Community Board 14 member and the chair of its transportation committee. "Now we have a little relief."
Vinicius Goulart, a 32-year-old photographer who lives in Williamsburg, said he was surprised to see the A line back up while he was in the Rockaways for a day at the beach.
"People can come for the summer now," he said. "It'll be so much easier."