Bronx Residents Eager to Get Back on the Subways

A Transit Authority employee stands guard in front of a subway station. (JIKA GONZALEZ/BronxInk)

Some of New York’s subways and Metro-North Railroad service will be reopened beginning Thursday, Nov. 1, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

That’s good news for Bronx commuters trying to get back to work. The announcement was made just 48 hours after Hurricane Sandy barreled through the area, causing an estimated $50 billion in damage, according to the Associated Press.

New York Metropolitan Transit Authority estimates that roughly 462,281 people pass through Bronx subway stations each day.  The borough is served by the 2, 4, 5, 6, B and D lines, along with a handful of Metro-North stations.  At 6 a.m. Thursday, trains operating above 39th Street in Manhattan are expected to have service partially restored. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced in a statement Tuesday that bus service would be free of charge until then, and ordered taxi cabs to pick up multiple passengers.

Although Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan acted quickly, the situation in most of New York on Wednesday was dismal for commuters. Buses running on Saturday schedules were crowded with passengers. Residents returning to their jobs Wednesday morning expressed helplessness at the situation.

“They’re crazy,” said one bus rider, Sonny. “If they really think we’ll put up with this kind of bus service for more than a week, you’re gonna have five million angry commuters.” That number represents weekday ridership, according to the Transportation Authority.

Most of the Bronx is connected by bus routes, particularly when residents go across the borough. Because bridge traffic causes bottlenecks, subway service brings commuters into Manhattan and to other boroughs much more quickly.

Fordham resident Bri Smith is usually one of these commuters, but today she had a different story. “I work all the way in Jamaica,” she said. “How can they expect me to get there without the subway running?”

“Hop on the Q60! It’ll take ya’ straight down Queens Boulevard!” replied a commuter at the bus stop on Fordham Road.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Joseph Lhota initially designated many elevated stations as fit for operation because they didn’t suffer flood damage. Most of the Bronx is served by elevated tracks, and Metro-North rails run above ground.

Cuomo expects service to be restored fully by next week, when water that filled the East River tunnels can be pumped out. Until then, people like Bri Smith must rely on bus service set up by the city and the Transportation Authority to get them beyond 34th Street.

Cuomo’s announcement was met with good feedback from commuters eager to return to normalcy. “People love to complain about the MTA,” says Frank Santinello, who has commuted to Manhattan from the Bronx for over two decades. “But a couple off days and suddenly they can’t live without it!”


Bronx subway service has resumed with limited operation above 34th Street. Map courtesy of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

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