NEW YORK — The New York City subway system will be up and running for the start of the work week Monday morning, transit officials said, but some pieces of the country's largest transit system will remain idle while inspectors check for any damage from Tropical Storm Irene.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority shut down all subways, buses and commuter trains Saturday in preparation for the storm. It was the first time a natural disaster ever closed the system down. On any given week day, New York City's subways cart about 5 million people, and commuters were left wondering how they would get to work.
After the storm came and left Sunday afternoon, limited city bus service started, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Jay Walder said subway service would start up at 6 a.m. Monday.
They said service will be less frequent than normal and customers should expect longer waits and more crowded trains. Frequency of service will improve over the course of the day.
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Meanwhile, damage assessments were continuing on the MTA'a Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, which were hit hard by flooding and mudslides.Video: Irene only got a little bite out of the Big Apple (on this page)
Before their annoucement, commuters were wondering how they would get around a city where most don't have cars and depend on public transit.
Domingo Diaz, 24, who lives in Brooklyn but works in SoHo, was asking a few of the neighborhood car service drivers what they planned to charge to take people into Manhattan on Monday. One quoted him a price of $65, which is at least $20 more than the usual rate.
He said the decision to stop the subways as the storm approached was "the smart call."
The limited bus service started up, first in Manhattan and the Bronx, then in Queens and Brooklyn. Staten Island was still on its own.
To get the subways running again, inspectors planned to walk all 800 miles of track, looking for damage to rails, switches and power sources, the transit agency said. Then they planned to test the tracks by running trains on them. Floodwater also would have to be pumped from train yards and other spots.Story: N.Y. airports begin relieving backlog of stranded fliers
Carole Ryavec, a resident of the Upper East Side, came out for a stroll through Central Park when the worst was over early Sunday afternoon. City workers were busy cleaning up fallen trees and debris.
"Of course we dodged a bullet!" said Ryavec. "We were darned lucky that the winds decreased."
Ryavec said the subway is her main mode of transportation to her job in Brooklyn, where she is a contracts consultant for the city's Department of Education.
She figured she wouldn't be going to work if the subway wasn't running.
"It can't happen without the subway," she said.
Commuters in the suburbs were isolated from the city, with rail lines on Long Island and in the north shut down for the storm. Dozens of trees fell on the Long Island Rail Road tracks, and more than 600 workers were assessing the damage, said the railway's spokesman, Sam Zambuto.
Besides clearing fallen trees, workers had to replace 500 crossing gates that were taken down before the storm because they could be blown away by the high winds that Irene brought with it, he said.Story: Flooding, cleanup and outages well after Irene
Meanwhile, mud slides, fallen trees and flooding rendered Metro-North Railroad tracks unusable, officials said. The commuter rail serves regions north of New York City, from Westchester County to southern Connecticut.
In the harbor-front town of Greenport, nearly every store was boarded up with plywood. A few people ventured out among the streets, which were still being buffeted by powerful winds off the water.
"We came out here looking for coffee because our house lost power," said Angelica Bengloa, who is vacationing at her summer home in nearby East Marion. "We found a place open here, and as soon as they served us, their power went out. So we're very lucky."
Bengloa said her family is prepared for several days without electricity. She doesn't have to go to work in Manhattan this week because she's still on vacation, so she's not too concerned about hunkering down for a while in her waterfront home, which scraped through the storm with hardly any damage aside from a few downed tree limbs.
"We are prepared. We have batteries and food," she said.
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