I grew up a front end rider. My trips on the NYC subway were always in the first car looking through the window at the track ahead. By graduation I’d memorized the right-of-way for the GG Local, the train I took to high school every day for four years.
The NYC subway system seemed as indestructible as it was ugly. The Earth itself would wear out before the subways.
In the end seven of the fourteen river tunnels flooded. The overground link through Jamaica Bay was destroyed.
I figured weeks, maybe months, before the subways were up and running. That seemed a reasonable estimate.
They’re mostly running today!
This morning’s New York Times quotes Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, usually not a subway operations booster, saying:
Some of what they’re doing borders on the edge of magic
The subways are mostly running today because the MTA did a lot of things right! That’s no accident.
Service was stopped the night before Sandy’s arrival and as much rolling stock as possible was moved to predetermined safe points in the system. That included moving the system’s three pumper trains, necessary to clear water.
After the storm the MTA concentrated on the low hanging fruit first, working on the easiest lines to open then moving down the list.
Trucking trains to Rockaway? This couldn’t have been in a pre-storm playbook. It had to be a wise ad lib.
Rockaway will be the MTA’s biggest problem. Here’s their description:
The scope of the destruction was stunning. The North Channel Bridge, which connects Howard Beach and Broad Channel over Jamaica Bay, as well as a section of Broad Channel known as “The Flats” sustained a tremendous amount of damage. Hundreds of feet of track were destroyed on the bridge and the line segment that runs through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. There is no working signal system, the rails are twisted and in some areas, the supporting roadbed is completely washed away. The Broad Channel station was filled with debris, including a jet ski and a speedboat.
We live in an era where government is often rightfully accused of being incompetent. Not the MTA. Not after Sandy.
The subway will continue to be ugly and utilitarian. The subway will continue to run!