Thursday, November 01, 2012

Limited transit service returns to New York, New Jersey

Written by  Mischa Wanek-Libman, Engineering Editor
MTA workers repair Metro-North's Hudson Line, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. MTA workers repair Metro-North's Hudson Line, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. MTA flickr

New York-area public transit riders now have free access to limited service on Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, and New York City Transit lines. New Jersey Transit has opened one light rail line linking Camden and Trenton, N.J.

"The gridlock we experienced yesterday shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "To get people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I immediately authorized the MTA to suspend transit fares through the end of the work week."

Limited service began Nov. 1 along roughly half of the system's 23 subway lines.

"With no electricity to power the third rail or to operate signals south of 36th Street, there will be no service between 34th St. in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Service will operate from the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan to Midtown and from Queens and parts of Brooklyn to Downtown Brooklyn. Shuttle Buses will operate from Jay St-MetroTech, Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn and Hewes St in Williamsburg to 57th St & Lexington Ave via 3rd Ave," the MTA said.

Limited service on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad was restored on Wednesday, Oct. 31, with the Long Island Rail Road providing service between Jamaica and Penn Station, while Metro-North offered hourly service on the Harlem Line between North White Plains and Grand Central Terminal. Both commuter rails are offering additional service as of Nov 1. Metro-North is operating close to regular service between Mount Kisco and Grand Central Terminal on the Harlem Line and on the New Haven Line between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal. The Long Island Rail Road is offering limited hourly service on the Ronkonkoma Branch and on the Port Washington Branch from Great Neck for the morning rush.

Crews along both commuter lines and the subway continue to clean up downed trees and other debris, as well as pump out millions of gallons of water that flooded tunnels and yards. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Unwatering Team has been sent to New York to aid in the pumping of water from tunnels. The Unwatering Team was specifically trained for unwatering New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and will provide engineering technical assistance to the USACE's New York District for unwatering flooded transportation systems and other low-lying areas by using 100 high-volume pumps.

NJ Transit resumed operation along its River Line light rail route at 3 p.m., Oct. 31, with trips occurring every 30 minutes between the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden and Trenton Transit Center. However, service along the route remains suspended between Walter Rand Transportation Center and the Entertainment Center due to an ongoing power outage in downtown Camden.

NJ Transit crews continue to inspect the remaining light rail infrastructure in order to obtain a full assessment of damage. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and Newark Light Rail service will remain suspended until further notice and there is no estimated time for resumption of service.

NJ Transit said Newark Light Rail sustained flooding in Newark Penn Station, as well as major debris damage between Newark Penn and Branch Brook Park stations. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail experienced track washouts at Port Imperial and West Side Avenue stations, as well as trees in the overhead wire in Weehawken and flooding in Hoboken.

There is also no estimated time for the resumption of NJ Transit rail service. The Rail Operations Center was engulfed in water, which damaged backup power supply systems, the emergency generator and the computer system that controls the movement of trains and power supply. Additionally, debris has damaged bridges, rail washouts occurred throughout the system, hundred of downed trees caused damage to overhead wires and signals and local power outages have prevented NJ Transit rail operations from being able to further test crossing gates and operating signals.

CLICK HERE TO SEE A SLIDESHOW OF NJT STORM DAMAGE.